A welcome alternative to meat and alcohol in Trinidad & Tobago

Celebrating 18 editions of a leading Diwali magazine

Dr Kumar Mahabir

Trinidad and Tobago – the Land of Carnival, steel band, tassa, calypso and chutney – is the same country that produces a unique brand of Diwali to the world.

In fact, the annual Hindu Festival of Lights has become Trinidad’s largest, national, open-air festival, second only to Carnival.

Diwali is a welcome alternative to the rambunctious indulgence in meat, alcohol and Party.

The Festival is arguably the largest vegetarian, alcohol-free festival in the Caribbean, if not in the Western Hemisphere.

Major Attraction

Diwali is an event that the Tourism Ministry can market as a major attraction in the fastest-growing, international marketplace of spiritual tourism.

Diwali is one of the festivals which establishes Trinidad as a multireligious, multiethnic society.

Hindus comprise the second-largest religious group (24%) after Roman Catholics in the twin-island’s population of 1.3 million people.

Eighteen Years of Magazine

The inaugural issue of our Diwali magazine began in 2000 and is still running strong after 18 continuous editions. For 18 unbroken years, it has been produced by the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre (ICC) based in San Juan in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).

The quality of the other Diwali magazine that has survived cannot be compared to the distinction of the content and appearance of our annual publication.

Printed in full colour on glossy paper, the cutting edge of our special-interest magazine lies in its visual and intellectual strength.

Our thematic approach is unique. The selected themes are based on research and analysis that are exclusive to our publications, e.g. Hindu sects in Trinidad and Tobago, Paintings on Hinduism, Janeo: The Hindu Student Admission Ceremony, and Chatti and Barahe – the sixth and 12th Day Hindu childbirth ceremonies.

Balanced Contents

Our balanced breadth of content brings hidden, unknown and marginalised topics to a public audience as well as new perspectives to old topics, e.g. Temples and Tourism in Trinidad and Tobago; Caribbean Indian Fashion; and Cultural ecology or, alternatively, religion and the environment.

Our articles are written in simple language by our qualified and skilled editorial team for a popular readership. The language is simple, but not simplistic because it conceals intellectual depth and thorough research.

The Hindu heritage

The expectation is that the knowledge produced in our magazine will contribute to a better understanding, respect, appreciation and acceptance of one another in our multiethnic society. Our objective of producing this magazine is also to build and strengthen bridges between Hindus and other ethnic groups in the cosmopolitan Caribbean.

An additional goal is to lift the consciousness of Hindus in their respective roles and responsibilities as an ethnic group in a developing society.

Our aim is to nurture an appreciation of the Hindu heritage in the Caribbean.

Our intention is also to provide a rich resource for students and researchers in the fields of Religious Education, Social Studies, Caribbean History, Caribbean Studies, Sociology, Cultural Studies and Anthropology.

New Approach

The inaugural edition in 2000 promised to take a new approach in educating the society about Hindus and Hinduism in Trinidad and Tobago, and the wider Caribbean.

In many ways, this new approach is similar to that of Dr Diane Moore, Senior Scholar and Founding Director of The Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. She pioneered the field of religious literacy by rejecting the Traditions-based methods of teaching religion.

She proposed that religion should be studied through the lens of cultural studies with the following maxims in mind (1) religions are internally diverse, (2) religions evolve and change, and (3) religions are culturally embedded.

Religious Literacy

Religious Literacy entails the ability to discern and analyse the fundamental intersections of religion and social, cultural and artistic issues.

Some of the themes of our magazine which illustrate these intersections include: Food Culture and Unhealthy Eating, Education in Hindu Schools in T&T, Visual Arts on Indian Cultural Heritage, and Secondary Schools Sanskritik Sangam Cultural Competition.

With respect to our Diwali magazine, religious literacy means that readers must be able to understand better the beliefs, practices and manifestations of Hindus and Hinduism, as the latter has been shaped by the social, historical and cultural contexts of Trinidad and the wider Caribbean.

Our magazine provides a forum for photographers, artists, illustrators and writers to submit their work for publication. Writers who wish to express themselves on socio-cultural issues, current events or other topics, particularly relevant to Hindus and Hinduism in the Caribbean, are asked to submit their material in the form of articles, commentaries, poems, short stories, play-extracts, and film and book reviews.

Our Diwali magazine has both print and digital editions to reach the widest possible readership to impact the world. Our website (www.indocaribbeanpublications.com) is free to read with an Archives Section.

Dr Kumar Mahabir is the Editor-in-Chief of the Diwali Magazine of the Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre. He lives in San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago.

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(Cover of Diwali Magazine Supplied)

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