Sunday, October 16 2011 @ 10:00 AM AST
Contributed by: AleemKhan
The Divali holiday will be observed on Wednesday October 26, 2011, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Divali Nagar, the first Hindu theme park in the world.
In the week leading to Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, over ten million deyas [clay lamps] are lit in homes, temples, offices, streets and parks. This festival has become the second-largest, open-air, national festival in multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago, after Carnival.
The hub of all Divali celebrations in the island is the Divali Nagar site in Central Trinidad, which was established in 1986. Indeed, the Nagar is the most-frequently visited entertainment centre in the country during Divali, second only to the Grand Stand in the Queen’s Park Savannah during Carnival.
The Nagar provides a public stage for local, regional and international performing artistes. These models, singers, dancers, musicians, choirs and orchestras entertain locals, as well as visitors from the rest of the world. The Nagar has grown to epic proportions, attracting many artistes and tourists to this international spiritual tourist destination. They come from Belize, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Suriname in the Caribbean. Others come from French Guiana, U.S.A, U.K., Holland and India. Prominent guests included the President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma and the two Presidents of Trinidad and Tobago, their Excellencies Noor Hassanali and Maxwell Richards.
Each year, the Nagar chooses a theme based on Hinduism and Indian culture for its presentation. The theme is researched and exhibited by Baba Satnarayan Mourya, an artist from India. Various modes of information, including designs, paintings, posters and photographs are showcased.
For nine nights, the Nagar is transformed into a blend of the sacred and secular, where the bustle of commerce mingles with the melody of prayer. Booths showcase and sell products and services to approximately 150,000 visitors. Commercial booths sell mainly Indian clothes, footwear, jewellery, accessories, music, movies, furniture, appliances, and religious and household items. In recent years, the Nagar has also accommodated an Indian Trade Fair. This is a flea market operated by about 25 businessmen from India.
The Nagar houses about 150 tents which include commercial stalls, religious booths, media houses and food kitchens. The kitchens - preparing local, hot, on-the-spot Indian delicacies - are the most popular. Pepper roti made on a chulha [earthen stove], in one of the food stalls, is extremely delightful.
At the Nagar, palmists and astrologists are sought and consulted. Mehindi artistes are in demand for decorating the hands and palms of mainly young women with artistic lines of paint. Itinerant salesmen peddle cotton candies, balloons, glow sticks and toys.