“Dharmic values are the greatest gift to Trinidad and Tobago,” said San Fernando-born Vassan Ramracha, now residing in Florida, USA. Ramracha was speaking at the SSL Divali Program held at SSL Car Park, Sutton Street, San Fernando.
It was a huge audience, and the car park was filled with people, bamboo arches with lit deeyas, tents on the southern border serving refreshments and a well-lit brightly colored stage with Kenneth Seepersad playing the role of MC. ( Kenneth made a special appeal for bright lights on the stage for the audience to recognize him).
Divali 2022 is being celebrated with a vengeance given the absence of Divali for the past two years. At the SSL celebration it was no less so as hundreds came out to join with the SSL family to enjoy an evening of entertainment, light deeyas, chat with friends and partake of the refreshments that were served.
Among the distinguished guests were Alderman Ferri Hosein, Deputy Mayor of San Fernando and Vassan Ramracha, a son of San Fernando who now resides in Florida, USA.
Vassan Ramracha, though living in the USA for the past 40 years, is a regular visitor to Trinidad and still has a home in San Fernando. A writer with ICDN, an online newspaper (w.w.w.icdn.com), Vassan is a regular presenter of papers at academic conferences on the Indian Diaspora.
Fearless, focused, and bold, Vassan shares the opinion that racism and race issues must be addressed in the diaspora. He lamented that too many of our leaders and self-style activists are still scared to speak out and much to their hardships.
The following is the speech (2 minutes 09 seconds) delivered by Vassan Ramracha:
“Sita Ram. The fact that we are celebrating Divali here is because we are making a statement that Hindus exist in this country. We must continue to have celebrations like this to make a statement that we have the right to exist as Hindus in this country.
“I want to say something to you-the greatest gift to Trinidad and Tobago is not only that we come from India to cut cane and harvest cocoa. The greatest gift to this country is our dharmic values, our Sanatanist values. Therefore, we have a certain balance of civility in this country because of Sanatan Dharma. Sanatan Dharma exists despite a thousand years of conquest after conquest, and a hundred and seventy years or more in this country where we had to jump hurdle after hurdle, but we have survived and are surviving because as Hindus we are making ourselves present in this country. It is important you make your presence felt in this country, to show that we exist. So, everyone needs to do his little bit to show that we have Sanatanist pride, Hindu pride. Thank You very much, dhayabaad,”
With Kenneth as MC the artistes were introduced with much humor and laughter. Among the artistes were the Susan Mohip Dance Company and the Roaring Iron Rhythm Section led by Ajmish Mohip. On stage was a bhajan group that rendered traditional Divali songs to an appreciative audience.
Added attractions for the evening were Pick a Pan and Best Dressed Female. For the Pick- a- Pan the individual was asked to name four types of roti. The best dressed female was Mattie Basdeo who received a special price.
Divali was declared a national holiday in 1966 and celebrations are held in schools, offices and communities. The message of Divali is simply the triumph of light over darkness. Many are also aware of the return of Rama after fourteen year in exile, and the emergence of Mother Lakshmi after the churning of the ocean.