Photo: HC and Dr. Alcala observe dance by Rohini Kumar

On 2nd November, over 400 Trinidad and Tobago nationals gathered together at the residence of Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Garvin Nicholas to commemorate the festival of Divali. The celebration took the form of an elaborate Hindu ceremony, featuring traditional thanksgiving rites.
The venue was packed to capacity with nationals eager to celebrate the sacred festival, and to revel in the sense of community ever-present at the High Commission’s national events. The High Commissioner expressed his pleasure at the overwhelming turnout, remarking that he was at a loss for words to see the sheer amount of nationals coming together to celebrate as one.

 In his welcome to the audience, Nicholas urged guests to heed the important lessons of Divali. “Divali, the Festival of Light, harkens to our personal capacity to act as forces of positivity within our own communities,” he stated. “This sense of personal responsibility is such an essential element as we seek to mould a society we can be proud of. Too often we citizens forget our own power and feel that we cannot make a difference. Yet one of the most invaluable lessons of Divali is the importance of faith in your ability to be a light in your world, to maintain hope in the promise of a better, brighter day”.

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Diaspora were intricately involved in the celebration’s proceedings, which were led by Pundita Asha Gosine, MBE, and Shree Krishna Ragbir. The audience sang along to a series of Bhajans and chanted in unison to the Hanuman Chalisa. Pundita Gosine also performed the sacred purifying ritual, the Havan Ceremony, in which the High Commissioner and his wife, Dr. Nicola Alcala, were key participants.

Thanksgiving was also expressed in the form of dance, and the packed audience delighted in the mesmerising religious dance performed by Mrs. Rohini Kumar. Shree Ragbir concluded the ceremony with a prayer which appealed to the congregation to emulate the joyous sense of brotherhood displayed by the citizens of Ayodha when they all came together to celebrate the return of Lord Rama and Sita after their fourteen year exile.

The celebration went well into the evening with the congregation enjoying a sumptuous Indian meal. At the end of the night, guests took their leave with many remarking on the poignancy of the ceremony, and expressing their appreciation to the High Commissioner for opening his residence to allow them to share the special festival with their fellow nationals.