Dr Abracadabra, 89, among 17 recipients of awards from San Fernando City Corporation

Dr Abracadabra, 89, among 17 recipients of awards from San Fernando City Corporation
Photo : H.E. Ambassador Jose A. Seriille Ramai of Dominican Republic presents award to Dr Abracadabra

Renowned magician, Dr Abracadabra, 89, was among 17 recipients of awards bestowed by the San Fernando City Corporation on Saturday November 17, 2018 at the St Paul’s Anglican Church, Harris Promenade, San Fernando.

The event was held to mark the 30th Anniversary of San Fernando becoming a city (1988-2018) and included in its program music, songs, a sermon by Cannon West and an address by Mayor Junia Regrello.

Dr Abracadabra has been a magician and entertainer since the age of 14. Born 1929 in Debe young Deoraj Seunarine was introduced to magic by an itinerant woman magician of Spanish descent. His first public performance was at the Humming Bird Cinema in Debe. “The audience was spellbound as they rose to their feet applauding my magic.  I can distinctly recalled Mr Lionel Frank Seukaran, a teacher at the Debe Presbyterian and a resident of Debe among the jubilant audience,” said Deoraj.

Dr Abracadabra has performed magic to audiences that included Basdeo Panday, Bhadase Sagan Maraj, Dr Eric Williams, Errol Mahabir, Noor Hassanali and Sir Ellis Clarke among others.

His work career began in the 1950s as a law clerk in his brother’s-Seusanker Seunarine- law chamber in San Fernando. In 1958 he began teaching at Clarke Road Hindu School. He later graduated from the Naparima Teachers’ College and was sent to Woodland Hindu School as a nutrition teacher. Deoraj served for 22 years at Woodland before his appointment as a Principal at Happy Hill Hindu School and later retirement at age 60.

Photo : Dr Abracadabra with friends after receiving the award.

“My magic took me all over the world-Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, USA, Canada, India, Holland, etc. I also shared the stage with many renowned artistes including Sundar Popo and the renowned Pendragons at Centre of Excellence,” he said.

“I was fortunate to perform under the guidance of the renowned Professor Bhatacharya of India. I acted as  a court jester in the play Shakuntala, written and directed by Professor Bhatacharya. That play was a huge success and my talent as an artiste became well known. Many critics of the arts were high in praise of my performance,” he said.

His proficiency in the Hindi language and his talents as a magician made him the first choice for master of ceremonies for visiting artistes such as Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur and Mohammed Rafi of India. “Other MCs stayed away because they were not versed in Hindi and did not want to embarrass themselves,” he recalled.

Deoraj is thankful to his father, mother and siblings. As a family they performed in the religious plays on the occasions of Divali and other festivals in Debe and neighbouring villages. His family were his critics and he would rehearse with his siblings before going on stage.

Deoraj has two sons, Vimal and Visham, who are also magicians. His wife Chandra is also a magician.  They are regularly contracted by families to perform at birthday and wedding anniversaries.

The audience at St Paul were happy to welcome him as he brought back fond memories of their fascination with magic. Now at 88, many were happy that their magician was in good health and sound mind. Greeting him after receiving his award was Joan YuilleWillams, a former Minister of Community Development and Culture, who also lectured to Deoraj when he attended special workshops for principals at the Corinth Teachers’ College.

Cannon West, using a comparative historical perspective traced the historical development of San Fernando and the City of Jerusalem.  He informed his congregation that San Fernando was called Anaparima by the First People. This named changed to San Fernando de Naparima in the 1780s by the last Spanish Governor, Don Jose Maria Chacon. He also outlined that San Fernando was a fishing port with a few hundred residents. With the growth and expansion of the sugar industry San Fernando expanded to the east, north and south. In the 1920s when the petroleum industry came into operation there was a further increase in the population.  Today San Fernando includes the suburbs of Vistabella, Marabella, Cocoyea, Bel Air, Gulf View and La Romain with a total population of 83,000 burgesses.

Cannon West lamented the high number of vagrants on the streets of San Fernando and asked his congregation to never ignore the golden rule-do unto other what you would like others do unto you. He appealed to his congregation that if we were to follow the golden rule many of our problems would not be with us.