Colourful art exhibitions, fireworks and religious fervour mark the festival of Diwali in Trinidad and Tobago, where it has been celebrated for nine days and has always culminated with a national holiday since 1966. People of Indian origin make up almost 43 percent of Trinidad and Tobago's 1.3 million population.
Hosted by the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC), the Diwali Nagar is a cultural extravaganza, which includes Indian classical music performances, Hindu devotional song renditions, dance shows and a Miss India Caribbean pageant.
There are also art exhibits based on a central theme. This year the theme is Hindu art while in the past the topics have ranged from the Vedas, forms of worship and weddings to Hindu contribution to science and technology, Mahatma Gandhi and yoga.
Thousands of people from across the Caribbean throng to the Diwali Nagar, dressed in ethnic Indian clothes like saris, ghararas and kurtas. The fair will come to an end Oct 27 and the main festival of Diwali will be celebrated Oct 28 with massive fireworks displays across the country.
Diwali is one of the many Hindu traditions that Indians brought with them to Trinidad when they came here between 1845 and 1917 to work in sugar plantations following the freeing of African slaves by an act of the British parliament in 1838. 'Over the years, we have commissioned and held exhibitions to highlight the themes we have selected. We have also displayed informative posters prepared by Baba Satnarayan Mourya and his team of artists from Mumbai in the past 10 years,' NCIC president Deokienanan Sharma said.
According to him, Diwali Nagar not only showcases rich Indian traditions but also helps educate other people about Indian culture.