Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Divali - Festival of Lights (A Repost) November 2012

 Divali - Festival of Lights (Trinidad Style)

Today Tuesday 13 November  is the Hindu Festival of Divali otherwise known as the Festival of Lights which celebrates light over dark, good over evil. 

Divali was first brought to Trinidad by Hindu indentured labourers in 1845 and is a five day festival. The word Divali itself means "row of lights" During the festival homes are completely cleaned and windows are opened to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Lamps are lit as a greeting to Lakshmi, gifts are given and festive meals are prepared. 

The climax of Divali is the lighting of deyas after sundown - a delightful experience that should never be missed. In yards, open spaces, staircases, roundabouts and porches, deyas are lit by the thousands. 

They are also placed on bamboo stalks bent into fantastic shapes and designs. In villages where there is a strong Hindu presence, it is common to see whole streets decorated in this manner.

Bamboo bending is an absolute art in itself and it takes hours to produce the beautiful designs.  The men normally work in teams to create the centre pieces for the festival. Last year (2010), in the Trinidad Guardian, according to one team leader, Boodram “Gable” Bissoondial, "one of the first things is to start with the end in mind."  Meaning what you want the product to look like when completed. 

Bamboo is not just bamboo. One has to choose the bamboo very carefully. For “road way” bamboo designs (bamboo lengths running parallel to each other placed on short stubs), Gable noted that you need to choose long lengths of bamboo that are not very wide in width. He said, "for bamboo that would form “rose designs,” you need to consider width more than length, since you have to split that type of bamboo into eight pieces. 

Safety is of major importance when bamboo bending. According to Gable, there is no need for "fancy-fancy" (local expression) tools, just the need for rolls of wire and two-and-a-half inch nails, with hammer in hand.. The pieces of bamboo must be tacked down to ensure they don't fall out causing harm to anyone and the edges of the bamboo have to be shaved so that no one can be scratched. Unshaven bamboo can be painful!

he following is taken from Worldpress.org and written by Dr. Kumar Mahabir (October 14, 2009) 

Divali is the defining event that marks Trinidad as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society with Hindus comprising the second largest religious group (24 percent) after Roman Catholics in the twin-island population of 1.3 million people. While Divali is essentially a Hindu festival, people of all faiths actively join in celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. Non-Hindu adherents are attracted to the festival's universal message as well as to the extravaganza that is not only unique but also provides a clean environment for the cultivation of a healthy body, mind and soul.
Nowhere else in the world do non-Hindus and non-Indians actively take part in the lighting of over 10 million deyas on a single night in the year. These tiny clay lamps are lit in homes, yards, streets, offices, public parks and playing fields. It is perhaps only in Trinidad that one can find split bamboo tubes transformed into magnificent works of art on which the deyas are placed. The split bamboo strips reach out toward neighboring houses, streets and communities to symbolize the popular local mantra "all ah we is one." 

To all my Hindu friends and all who will be celebrating, Shub Divali


  1. And yes, it is another Public Holiday!

  2. That would be a beauty to behold indeed Bee.

    The only time I see a blog from you is in this section. Your settings really do need to be changed.


    1. It is quite a site to behold in some areas. There is one place here where everyone from all over the island will go to look at the spectacular lights.

      To see my blog in you roll, you have to put my url intot eh blogs you are following

  3. Shub Diwali to you too, darling. Gosh the noise from all the fireworks though last night was terrible. I was so surprised , had no idea we had so many Hindi people living in our little suburb. It is not allowed in South Africa under any circumstances to have fireworks that goes bang, so I phoned the police station, my poor Mousie was terrified. The sergeant told me they were investigating, there had been hundreds of calls already. Fancy that. Now we are waiting for Guy Fawkes, Thanksgiving and New Year and what else is coming for my Dutch neighbour behind to go bonkers again. this year I will shoot him! One big bang !!

    1. People here know to keep their pets in doors on certain holidays including New Year's Eve. Guy Fawkes? 5 November!!!! try not to shoot him - no bail money!

  4. Shubh Divali to you too! Next year you have to come over by me and Natasha too! (hope me posting here leads you to my blog)

    1. That would be nice! I can only get to your blog via google+ so you have to go into your settings and make it public.


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