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Trinidad to have all-faith celebration of Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary

Posted on Dec 15, 02:39PM | IANS

People of Indian origin in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago will join the rest of the world in paying homage to Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary in January with a series of cultural and educational programmes involving people of all faiths.

Indian High Commissioner Malay Mishra said the anniversary celebrations will be held Jan 10-15 at several locations in Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives from Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, including Swami Ishtananda from Florida, will deliver speeches on Vivekananda. A health camp will also be organised at Lambeau, Tobago.

Vivekananda was born Jan 12, 1863, in an affluent family in Kolkata. His father was Vishwanath Datta, a successful attorney, and his mother was Bhuvaneshwari Devi.

Born Narendra Nath Datta, Vivekananda excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation from his boyhood.

In May 1893, Vivekananda left for the US to attend the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and although he was not a delegate, he forced his way and obtained permission. Rising above cramping creeds and dwarfing dogmas, Vivekananda spoke of harmony and universalism and his message came like a breath of fresh air to suffocated people and made him an instant celebrity.

Indian High Commissioner Mishra said: "The event will be inaugurated with the opening of an exhibition of books, photographs and posters of Swamiji at the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) auditorium in collaboration with the Vedanta Society."

A film on Vivekananda will be screened at the City Hall, San Fernando, and will continue to be shown throughout the year, based on requests from various socio-cultural organisations, Mishra said.

Around 44 percent of the 1.3 million population of Trinidad and Tobago originally came from India's Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states between 1845 and 1917. Around 148,000 Indians came to work on the sugar and cocoa plantations in the Caribbean at the time.

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