Saturday, November 7, 2015


That's Right #India, your #CaribbeanCousins in #Trindad and #Tobago (T&T) have doubled down on Diwali. while in India you celebrate for 5 days, in Trinidad we do 10 days, In 2015 it began with the opening of the of the Diwali Nagar (Diwali village) on November 1st. Today November 7th, 2015 #Diwali is the #1 trending topic on #Facebook. To say that Diwali is big in T&T, is like saying that we need air to breath. Regardless of Race or religion, it's a national event that's become highly commercialized and ritualized. while the Hindu folks still fast and pray and do their Pujas, the entire nation revels in the 10-day "Diwali Season", with both businesses and politicians going nuts to be seen as a supporter of Diwali.

The Diwali Nagar is also the first Diwali Theme park created in the world and is now being "imported" by at least one Indian municipality we know of, Trade missions from India is always brought to the Diwali Nagar, where the T&T Government shows off our massive theme park, which lies dormant during the rest of the year, save for the occasional concert and the annual "Hanuman ChanTTing". Diwali is loved so much by the Indo-Caribbean peoples' of Trinidad and Tobago, they bring it with them whenever they migrate, here in New York City this is evident by the annual Diwali Motorcade in South Richmond Hill, Queens.

In T&T, the 10 days is replete with activities that only happen at this time of year, the creation of Bamboo scapes (using bamboo to make designs and structures to hold and present Deyas), please see photos below. Deyas are the ubiquitous vessel made of clay that holds a wick and a couple ounces of oil, that was used to light the way for Ram and Sita as they return victorious from the forest. In T&T, coconut oil is the most common fuel used for the Deyas. There are competitions that reward winners for their Bamboo Scapes. In most towns and villages, the entire community gathers at the local #Cricket ground to build their Bamboo scapes, It doesn't matter your #race or #religion, in T&T, Diwali is a national event, everyone participates. while only #Hindus go to temple and pray for Diwali, everyone is involved in all the cultural events including plays and skits, singing and dancing and maintaining the Deyas during the night on Diwali day, just as I was when growing up in Trinidad.

In T&T, Diwali has also become very commercialized. Every business worth their salt, advertises extensively during the Diwali season, offering "Diwali specials" and buys a booth at the Diwali Nagar, where you can be fed and entertained exquisitely for 10 days of celebrations. In addition to the cultural and religious programme ever day and night, popular restaurants, and individuals, cook fresh Roti and Takari (vegetable filling) and make local drinks. of-course the big food chains also get in on the act like popular T&T ice-cream maker Willie's Ice cream with coconut usually the most popular flavour requested. Diwali is also as big a revenue stream for both Radio and TV in T&T as Christmas, as advertisers know the value of advertising at this time of year. Of-course the politicians ALL want to be seen celebrating Diwali, regardless of race or religion, political photo-ops and speeches during our 10-day celebration is a nuisance we have to endure.

Like North Americans do for Christmas, in T&T, preparing for Diwali includes fasting for Hindus, most people are also cleaning, fixing, painting and decorating houses and in some cases, making their own Deyas and coconut oil. Tile red is the most popular color of paint used at this time of year, with thousands of gallons being sold during the Diwali season. Many folks install "Christmas lights" to adorn their houses, particularly the ubiquitous veranda, which stays up past New Years day. While it's only Hindus who actually adorn their homes with Deyas, usually the neighbors, and particularly their children, who helps to lay them out and maintain them during the night by refilling with the oil or replacing the wicks, regardless of race or religion.

Migrants from India has been in T&T since 1845, and the Caribbean itself since 1838. With them they brought their Indian Culture, religions, foods, plants, intelligence, innovation, industrious nature and entrepreneurial spirit to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Though T&T is a plural multi-cultural society that includes peoples from India, Africa, China, Spain, France, England, Ireland, Scotland, the middle east, the indigenous Amerindians and from across the Caribbean islands, it is quite evident that the migrants from India has had the most impact on society. Innovation by Indians in T&T include the most famous street food known as "Doubles", Buss-up-shot (T&T Paratha Roti), Dhal Puri (very different from Indian Puris), Chutney Music and Chutney Dance.

Diwali, is quickly becoming a quintessential world holiday because as the Original Festival of Lights, it bears meaning to many people, not just Hindus, plus its so much fun to be part of this tradition. If there is no Diwali celebrations where you are, please plan your next vacation in Trinidad during our 10-day festival, it will be the experience of your family's life.

photos via

No comments:

Post a Comment

Just say it.