Diwali fest in Trinidad promotes cultural multiplicity: Minister

Port-of-Spain, Nov 2 (IANS) The annual Divali Nagar festival in Trinidad and Tobago offers “a dynamic platform for deepening of the appreciation of our cultural multiplicity”, according to the Caribbean nation’s cultural minister.

Speaking at the 29th Divali Nagar’s opening ceremony on Sunday night, Minister for Community Development, Arts and Culture Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said her ministry is pleased to support the initiative which encompasses “our religious, cultural and artistic traditions”.

“Our ancestors demonstrated unwavering faith and endurance in the preservation of our rituals. Through their efforts, our various religious customs have survived to contribute to the great tapestry that is now Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

Gadsby-Dolly said the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) is actively playing “its role in developing progressive approaches to the management of cultural and community activities”.

Deokienanan Sharma, president, NCIC, said apart from an Indian channel beaming this year’s Divali Nagar worldwide, several issues of cultural importance have taken shape.

“We are approaching completion of the construction of our cultural heritage centre which will house an Indian diasporic library and an Indo-Caribbean Archive documenting the history, culture and traditions of the East Indians in the diaspora so that researchers, students and individuals can access credible information,” Sharma said.

He said when Divali Nagar started in 1986 it made a statement that “Indo-Trinidadian culture was a significant part of the culture of our country and it must take its rightful place on the national stage”.

He said new dimensions have been added to “our programming as the Miss Divali Nagar Queen show has been expanded to include delegates from Canada, the US and Belize, in addition to those from Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, and of course, Trinidad and Tobago”.

Meanwhile, local Radio 90.5 FM has partnered with India’s Zee TV for this year’s Divali Nagar festivities, November 1 to 9, to take it to worldwide audiences, said Kiran Maharaj, managing director, Radio 90.5 FM.

Maharaj in a statement said the Indian channel approached Radio 90.5, “to play this role as they make their footprint in the Caribbean with Z TV family”.

“We chose Divali Nagar as the opportunity to do this,” he added.

The Indian channel and Radio 90.5 are also sponsors of the NCIC’s annual Divali Nagar Queen Show where contestants from six countries will vie for the Queen title.

The NCIC has accepted a government grant of $1.5 million to help it defray costs, an NCIC official said, adding the annual Divali Nagar costs nearly five million dollars.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at paras_ramaoutar@yahoo.com)

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