Diwali in Trinidad and Tobago
Considered as the land of the Humming
Bird, Trinidad and Tobago has a good number of Indian populations. For that
reason, Hindu festivals, customs, traditions and observances forms an
integral part of the society, which comprises the unique beauty of the twin
island state. The Diwali celebration has a unique flavor here in the
Caribbean island nation. Here 43 per cent of the 1.3 million populations are
The festival day is regarded as a national holiday. The festival is also
marked by scores of functions besides the usual rituals of the festivity.
The functions and celebrations during Diwali Festival also have an official
imprint as the Ministers of the Government also participate in the
celebrations sometimes. The celebrations continue for over a week and the
headquarters of the National Council of Indian Culture at Diwali Nagar
becomes the focal point.
Diwali, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, is one
of the most anticipated events in Trinidad. Although it is a Hindu festival,
in the island's multicultural and multi-religious society it is a national
holiday observed by people of all denominations. The day is marked by
prayers, feasts and the lighting of thousands of diyas (small clay pots
filled with oil in which a wick is immersed and lit) all over the country.
In the Hindu community, there are two stories of the origin of Diwali, and
in the weeks leading up to the festival they are acted out in full costume
in open-air theaters in villages all over Trinidad. Employees and even
government ministers dress in East Indian garb and variety
shows featuring aspects of Indian and Hindu culture are staged.
The climax of Diwali however, is the lighting of diyas after sundown - a
delightful experience that should never be missed. In yards, open spaces,
staircases, roundabouts and porches, diya s are lit by the thousands. They
are usually placed on bamboo stalks bent into fantastic shapes and designs.
In villages where there is a strong Hindu presence it is common to see whole
streets decorated in this manner.
If visiting Trinidad during Diwali, it helps to have a vehicle to travel to
many of the areas where the glittering displays can be seen. In some
villages, one may have to join the throngs of people walking through the
streets in order to get a first-hand view of the lights and to receive
sweets which are handed out.