Ramayan with a Difference
Photo : Jai Sear at Mere Desh Indian Arrival Day Celebration on May 30, 2017 at the Market Square, Chaguanas. He is flanked by Karan Nancoo, President of Gopio and Dr Kumar Mahabir. Next to Dr Kumar Mahabir is Savi Praimsingh of Praimsingh’s Pooja Bhavan.
A Five-Night Ramayan Yagya (26-30 May, 2017), at Bamboo Grove No1 Mandir, Valsayn was held to commemorate the 172nd anniversary of Indian Arrival Day (1845-1917). Speakers were Jai Sears of Grenada, Ganesh Bidhesi, Sat Sookdeo and Dr Kirk Meighoo. Pandit Buddharath Yankatesu of Bamboo No 3 was the officiating Vyaas.
A Guyanese by birth Jai Sears told a packed congregation that “I fled Guyana in 1981 after I was held up at gun point and robbed of cash and jewellery.” He continued, “I went to the police station the next morning and saw the said police officers at the reception desk.”
Mr Sears shared with his audience his first-hand experience of violence, rape and murder of Indian and Chinese people at the hands of their majority Black neighbours in Wismar (Now Linden) on the East Coast, Demerara in 1964.
Indians were driven out of their homes, their furniture and other valuable stolen and their houses set afire. Women and children were raped. Jai said: “Big mamas were putting their fingers into the vaginas of young teens and shouting …” a virgin...come and take her and Blacks men would then gang rape the girl.”
“I witnessed dead bodies of children, men and women, Indians and Chinese floating in the rivers,” he said. The audience listened in shocked silence. Jai appealed to the Hindu devotees: “Do not let the experiences of Wismar be repeated here,” and urged Hindus to “introduce their young boys and girls to the Girls Guide and Boys Scouts.”
“The attacks were orchestrated by the PNC and the police refused to protect the victim,” he said. “Janet Jagan, the Minister of Home Affairs, resigned in frustration after the Commissioner of Police refused to take actions to protect innocent victims,” he added.
“Milk must be boiled before drinking.” This was the advice given to devotees by Ganesh BIdhesi, an animal Health Assistant employed with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Bidhesi said that there is a campaign to discredit milk. “Business interest wants us to kill the cow for meat. Hence a campaign to discredit milk,” he said. Ganesh said: “Milk is a perfect source of protein for vegetarians.”
Sat Soodeo spoke on the growing social and political unrest in neighbouring Venezuela. “This crisis came about because of the appointment of party hacks in key industries. With limited knowledge of the working of the production line, most factories have gone out of production.” He asked his audience that they don’t be complacent but take an active role in the politics of their country.
Former UWI lecturer, Dr Kirk Meighoo told the congregation that “many Indians have a longer history in Trinidad than many, if not most, Africans”. He went on to state that at Emancipation there were a mere 18,000 Africans slaves in the country, compared to the 144,000 Indians who came as indentured labourers. “The majority of Africans came to Trinidad from St Vincent, Tobago, Grenada, Barbados and St Lucia in the 19th century after slavery as free people,” he said. He told his audience: “Indians are one of the major Founder-Peoples of Trinidad and Tobago. Indians, accordingly, have a major historical claim to being an indispensable founder-creator people of Modern Trinidad. You have more legitimacy here in Trinidad than others who came after you.”
Dr Meighoo said that it is a myth to claim that the majority of Africans came before Indians in Trinidad. He said that “that propaganda is being propagated to make people believe that Africans have more legitimacy in the country than you.”
Three families were honoured in the yagya for their service to the mandir and community of Bamboo No 1. Many had died but their family members were at hand to receive their gifts.
In his closing remarks, Wayne Lalchan, President of the Mandir remarked: “In my opinion having the guest speakers was successful.” The congregation endorsed the statement with thunderous applauses.