Given the unpredictably of the Covid 19 spread, Hindu organizations in Trinidad and Tobago have cancelled all religious and social observances starting with Nau Raatri, Rama Naumi and Hanuman Jayanti.
The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), the largest Hindu organization, has ordered all mandirs under its jurisdiction to cease holding their weekly and daily religious services to the general public with immediate effect, following the announcement by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley that there must not be any gathering of more than ten persons.
Devotees are urged to perform their religious services in the privacy of their homes or mandirs in order to ward off the threat of Covid 19. Police surveillance at several religious organizations across the country are being enforced to ensure that citizens obey the injunctions of the Government which is leaving no stone unturned to contain and eliminate this deadly virus. This is one of several orders calling on the national populace to keep in mind the seriousness of the pandemic.
The usual observance of Nau Raatri which starts on Tuesday March 24 and which will last for a nine-day period has hit Hindu women seriously as they are accustomed to keeping vigil at mandirs, and paying obeisance to the Goddesses- Durga, Lakshmi and Mother Saraswati. This is followed with Rama Naumi, the birth of Rama, on April 1, On April 7, Hindu will observe Hanuman Jayanti. There are over 400 mandirs dotting the Trinidad landscape which host daily and weekly religious services.
All schools and tertiary education institutions are closed until April 20, in the first instance. Scores of weddings, including Hindu weddings and other public functions, have been postponed. Pundit Ramesh Tiwari, spiritual leader of the Edinburgh Hindu Temple, one of the dynamic mandirs in the country, has commended the Government for being proactive in responding to this global pandemic that is sparing no one that comes in its path.
The Government announced a series of activities to be curtailed including the opening of bars, restaurants. All public offices and transport facilities must be properly sanitized.
Other religious organizations like the Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptists, Anglican, among several others, are following the directives of the Government which has announced a network of economic and financial incentives to help the vulnerable in this distressing times.
Additionally, all religious groups have been offering special prayers and benediction to stop Covid 19, a nightmare to the populations of 1.4 million people, of which 44 per cent are of East Indian stock, but approximately 25 per cent are devout Hindus.
Pundit Tiwari, spiritual heal of the Edinburgh Mandir, has issued a clarion call “to the national society to go down on your knees and seek Mother Durga’s blessings in this Nau Raatri period to ward off Covid 19 from all corners of the globe. Covid 19 has become a very serious challenge to the health, safety and economic prosperity of the global society as no one can discern it total ravages. We must always pray and live by the injunctions of their religious and spiritual charters. Eventually, mankind will come out of this debacle.”