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Trinidad and Tobago celebrates Diwali

Posted on Nov 14, 03:37PM | IANS

Over 300,000 Hindus celebrated Diwali in Trinidad and Tobago, with Indian-origin Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar assuring in her Diwali message that her government is "committed to the highest level of accountability in public affairs".

This oil-rich nation, whose 44 percent of the population of 1.3 million hails from India, celebrated Diwali by lighting diyas, setting alight firecrackers and chanting special prayers.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in her Diwali message, said that the festival comes at a time when people expect good governance and a higher level of accountability in public affairs.

"I wish to assure the national community that my government is committed to the highest level of accountability in public affairs and to the principles of good governance," she said.

The prime minister added: "Wherever there is darkness in this land, whether in the form of perceived threats to fundamental freedoms, whether it is the darkness of poverty, the violation of the person, especially the rape and abuse of our women and children, I will work to eradicate these forms of darkness and bring light and healing to those affected."

Trinidad and Tobago President Maxwell Richards said that Diwali had come to Trinidad and Tobago with Indian immigrants, but the Hindu festival was now celebrated by people of different cultural and religious backgrounds.

"Diwali serves as a visual representation of the theme of triumph of light over darkness, of good over evil, of truth over falsehood and knowledge over ignorance," he said.

Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran hailed Diwali as, "a human outlet to seek the spiritual enrichment and to transfer this element to the total transformation of the society and mankind".

He praised the teachings in Hinduism as "an eternal message of hope, of promoting the concept total love, truth and human understanding as the cosmos grapples with serious socio-economic issues, all of which require a divine intervention".

"There is an urgent need for all of us to follow on the pathway of spirituality," Dookeran added.

A highlight of Diwali in Trinidad and Tobago was the event, Diwali Nagar, that attracted over 130,000 people over nine days.

It featured religious, spiritual and cultural programmes. Visitors from as far as India, Britain, Canada, Holland, the US and South Africa participated.

Indians came here from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 and 1917. Over 148,000 Indians were brought here by the then British colonial government to work on the sugar and cocoa plantations.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at paras_ramoutar@yahoo.com)