Pandit Ramdath Mahase and devotees of the Shiv Jyothi Mandir of Las Lomas No 1 joined with Friends of Harij and family in Satsangh at his home in Endeavour on Tuesday last (7th June, 2022).
A past pupil of the St Augustine Senior Secondary School, Pandit Ramdath Mahase said that “Sir kept us under his wings and made us proud Hindus.” In 1975 when Hariji joined the staff at the newly opened St Augustine Senior Secondary Comprehensive School Hariji opened the Hindu Society which organized annual Divali celebrations which evolved into the largest Divali celebration in north Trinidad. The weekly meeting of the Hindu Society provided a forum for Hindu students to learn more about their dharma and strengthen their Hindu identity.
“I am a Hindu, and I am proud of my name,” said Pandit Ramdath. He recalled that when he was living at Mt Do’or, there were only three Indian families-one Muslim and two Hindu. “Through the Hindu Society I developed pride in my heritage and today I am a pandit, flying the flag of Sanatan Dharma.”
The Shiv Jyothi Mandir of Las Lomas No 1 was the first mandir built by Doon Pandit. It was at Las Lomas that Doon Pandit’s popularity as a healer and advocate for education for Hindu boys and girls started. In 1949 Doon Pandit received an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his work among the lepers at Chacachacare and went on to unite the Sanatanist Hindus to form the Maha Sabha.
Pandit Ramdath Mahase, the official pandit of the Tobago Hindu Society, is actively engaged in the construction of the first mandir in Tobago. On May 30th the Tobago Hindu Society sponsored its annual Indian Arrival Day celebration with the Honorable Farley Augustine, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly as the guest of honor. Also attending the Indian Arrival Day celebration was Pandit Beeshram Sewdat who spearheads the Friends of Hariji Weekly Satsangh.
Playing the harmonium was Neville Lennard, a past pupil and teacher at St Augustine Senior. “Hari is a gem and I feel privileged to be here in his presence.” Neville is a renown painter and known for his painting of deities on canvas which he presents as gifts to mandirs.
Now ailing, Hariji was an untiring Hindu worker in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s – more than three decades. During this period, he founded the Hindu Jawaan Sangh and the Hindu Seva Sangh that revived Phagwa, made Indian Arrival Day a mass movement and sponsored Youth Training Camps that trained hundreds of youths across the country. Hariji was the brainchild of the Statue of the Indian Indentures at Cedros (1983) Seedas Sadhu Monument at Waterloo (1993) and the Sundar Popo Monument at Debe (1911).
On Tuesdays between 5-6- p.m. Friends of Hariji has agreed to meet in Satsangh and chant the Hanuman Chalisa and interact with Hariji. The Satsangh is now gaining momentum, and many have expressed their desire to be present for the next session.
In addition to the Satsangh, Friends of Hariji, is developing a publication titled “Gentle Colossus – a short biography of Harji. Spearheaded by Dool Hanomansingh, the book includes tributes by volunteers who have worked with Hariji in numerous projects to lift the image of the Hindu community of Trinidad and Tobago and the diaspora.