Trinidad Hindus observe Shiva Ratri with reverence and devotion
Against the deafening songs of calypso, soca, steelpan and mas revelers marking the closing day of the annual Carnival, a pre- Lenten festival, devout Hinduism in this oil-rich economy observed Shiva Ratri with reverence and devotion in over 400 mandirs and thousands of homes across the country with over 25 per cent who are Hindus out of a population of 1.4 million people.
For the past weeks, there have been scores of Lord Shiva yagnas, pujas and religious activities. Homes were properly cleansed and bhajans to Lord Shiva echoed across the land, whilst several radio stations with exclusive East Indian programming hosted sessions dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Photo : Paras Ramoutar
It was a full night of devotion as mandirs opened their doors for devotees kept vigil offering milk of pure devotion, ghee of pure thoughts, water of pure knowledge, milk-curd of pure actions, honey of pure character, bael leaves, black till,among several other ingredients. The core point of the devotion was the continuous chanting of, “Om Namah Shivaaya”. And as this mantra was echoed, this nation had become a national shrine.
According to Pundit Ramesh Tiwari, spiritual leader of the Edinburgh Hindu Temple, Shiva Ratri of which the Lingam(stone emblem) is the focus of worship, which is a symbol of Lord Shiva of the Holy Trinity which includes Lord Vishnu and Lord Bramha.
“This holy symbol represents the formless aspect of God, and Hindus principally in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname pay special obeisance reverence to Lord Shiva. In our observance, especially in Trinidad, let us pray for the peace, good governance, law and order, and let Lord Shiva intervene and ward off the critical murder rates,” Pundit Tiwari thundered.
From as early as 4 p.m. on Tuesday, devotees begun the trek to mandirs and other public places of worship.
There was a marked difference to this year’s observance, as youth participation showed up heavily which augurs well for the future of Hinduism, as there is a growing presence of Pentecostal Assemblies in the country.
Gifts and sweets were handed out to devotees as a mark of love, devotion and respect to each other.