Diwali celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 27, 2011 06:20 hrs

Port-of-Spain, Oct 27 (IANS) Diwali was celebrated in style in Trinidad and Tobago Wednesday with Hindus offering prayers, lighting earthen lamps and singing and danced to celebrate the festival in this oil-rich nation.

However, due to an emergency was declared in the country Aug 21 to curb a string of violent crimes, this was the first time since the arrival of Indians from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar over 150 years back that celebrations had to be curtailed. It usually spills over to the next day.

All celebrations were completed by 11 p.m. due to the curfew imposed following the state of emergency.

Hundreds of tourists from the US, Britain and even India have come here to celebrate Diwali, which was declared a public holiday in 1966.

President George Maxwell Richards in his Diwali message said: '(Mahatma) Gandhi is known as an advocate of peace, although his life has been anything but peaceful in terms of external forces and circumstances.'

Gandhi, Richards said, eschewed the external trappings of power and wealth, in his pursuit of the intangible but lasting quality of true wealth that comes from a right relationship among human beings.

He added as we participate in the various forms of celebration associated with this important day in the Hindu calendar, 'let us remind ourselves that ritual can become a habit without meaning'.

Of this Caribbean island nation's population of 1.3 million, around 44 percent are of Indian descent. Their forefathers were brought here between 1845 and 1917 to work on sugar plantations.

Acting Prime Minister and Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said that the concept of diversity continues to be the hallmark of Diwali celebrations over the years.

'Trinidad and Tobago continues to demonstrate to the world how the peoples of various ethnic and religious groups can live in peace, concord and harmony. Let us use Diwali as the guiding light towards the enactment of the ideal nation-state.

'There are serious and evocative lessons for all of us as Diwali has a sound and eternal background for several millennia,' Dookeran added.

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