BELAIR–A rich blend of traditional and contemporary entertainment featured young and amateur talents at the third annual St. Maarten Hindu Organization’s Diwali Nite event held in Belair Community Centre on Saturday evening. The show was hosted by the group as part of its Hindu Festival of Light – Diwali – celebrations. Diwali will be observed in St. Maarten on Wednesday.
The celebration continues at the Organization’s mandir (place of worship) in the Sun Building on Welfare Road, Cole Bay, at 8:00am Wednesday. All are invited to join in the prayers and songs.
Saturday evening’s show saw a large number of children grace the stage to perform ancient traditional dances such as Bharatanatyam and more contemporary ones channelling popular Bollywood movie hits.
The songsters serenaded the packed audience with classical Hindi songs as well as more recent tunes.
The troupe of actors stole the night. They kept the audience in stitches of laughter as they performed skits mostly in the Creole dialect that is widely spoken in Guyana.
To keep the audience nourished during the show, the Organization’s talented cooks made a feast of vegetarian foods and snacks for sale. There was also a silent auction with a variety of items from watches to jewellery and electronics.
As a first, the Organization has produced its own colourful calendar featuring the main Hindu religious holidays and the St. Maarten ones. The calendars are on sale at the mandir for US $5 each or from Sun Insurances.
All of the money raised from the event is for the Organization’s specific goal of acquiring a permanent place of worship. The main plan is to build a mandir to serve as not only the place of worship for Hindus, but as a centre where the rich tradition of Hinduism is passed on to future generations.
Hindu Organization President Mahendri Ramrattan said, “In our own subtle way, with the contributions from members, sponsors and the funds from our two main cultural events – Phagwah (the Festival of Colours) and Diwali – we have been saving every dime with the primary intention of one day, in the near future, we could have our own place of worship.” That place of worship hopefully will be equipped with accommodations for a caretaker, a pandit (Hindu priest), a kitchen and a space for hosting events.
Ramrattan said Hinduism was a way of life and the mandir provided a channel or an alternative way for the Hindu community to express itself.
The Ramayan, a Sanskrit epic poem that tells the story of Diwali, provides an epic example in the ordeal of Sita, the wife of an exiled king, who was offered the world to abandon her way of life but adamantly stayed true to her values. The epic culminates with the main characters returning to their homes and being welcomed with diyas (tiny oil lamps) placed by the populace to light their path home. The light also signifies all their triumphs, as light overpowers darkness.
Using the lessons of the Ramayan, Ramrattan said, “Fact is when you are staunch in your belief, when you are determined, when in your heart of hearts you know that you are right, when you have that gut feeling and are willing to stand up for what you believe in, something happens at that point in time and your opposition senses it and as powerful as they feel, they are weakened by that force within you.”
Her message was for the congregation of the mandir and the wider Hindu and general community to continue to persevere to make themselves and the country better and stronger. “If you hold steadfast it becomes more and difficult for them to overpower you. That is when the forces of the universe take over and things turn in your favour. This is when we say God does not come, but He sends,” she said.
This Diwali will be a double celebration for Hindus living in St. Maarten, as the festival coincides with St. Maarten/St. Martin Day, Ramrattan said.
The Organization welcomes those interested in joining the satsangs (prayers) at the mandir to do so on the first and third Sunday of each month. Special satsangs also are held in observance of other Hindu religious days. For regular updates, visit
Source: The Daily Herald Hindu Organization marks Diwali in songs and dances