With so much activity in the run up to our relaunch later this morning, we were glad to join over 30 fellow cruisers and Jesse James for the Divali festivities last night.
The trip cost 35 GBP each but this included the return drive to the town of Felicity some 60 minutes away in the area of Chaguanas. Jesse put on several buses and we recognised the drivers from past trips. Students from the International School also attended and we all had a great time.
We first visited a Hindu Temple where we all left our shoes outside. We all had to wear long trousers and cover our shoulders. The Master of Ceremonies explained some of the meaning of Divali and how the Hindus came to Trinidad and Tobago. A solo dancer and a small group of 3 gave a display of traditional Indian dancing and this was followed by a very energetic and loud drumming group. All their costumes were very colourful and they looked beautiful.
Afterwards we went to a separate room for an Indian meal, served on banana leaves. We had roti skins to gather up the rest of the food, a selection of pumpkin, breadfruit, potato with chickpeas and a spicy mango dish. All delicious and we just folded up the leaf and threw it away, so no washing up.
We then walked around the town to see all the lights and were warmly welcomed by the Hindu families and people in cars driving by. We were given bags of sweets they had made, a lovely gesture. Divali is their special festival and encourages giving.
Some people had used different coloured rice to make displays and everyone had those tiny clay cups we saw being made last month, filled with oil and a simple wick. They stayed alight in the wind somehow, so could do with those on the boat. No health and safety issues here – just lots of candles all over the pavements.
Down every side street were lights, the entire town had really done themselves proud with thousands of little divali cups holding oil and a simple wick, lighting up the dark. One house in particular outshone the rest in every way. Billy Raj told us he loves Christmas even more so from Divali until the beginning of December he adds even more lights, a reindeer and a Santa.
There were bands playing, hundreds of cars still arriving when we left and families out enjoying the atmosphere. The men and women wore gorgeous silk and satin clothes, richly embroidered with gold and silver. Many women had elaborate jewellery and henna drawings on their hands.
Having never been to anything like Divali before, we found it fascinating and would recommend the trip to anyone who is in Trinidad at this time of year. The positive feeling of the festivities, celebrating the power of light over darkness was very infectious.