Hindus have a devout belief that that morning prayer is very important. Cleanliness is seen as a means of respect and sanctity for preparing to commence worship. The typical routine of a devote Hindu would be waking up early in the morning and after taking a shower they would commence their worship. An important factor to note would be there is no consumption of food before the actual worship takes place because it would be considered as disrespectful and one’s body would be impure. The next step in terms of preparing for worship is obtaining the proper offerings. Offerings can vary from flowers, fruits, milks but typically families use flowers for morning worship. The offerings are usually made to a Lingam. (1)“The term Lingam means symbol or sign. It is a representation of Bhagwan Shiva. Bhagwan Shiva is worshipped the various forms. He as the divine and universal being is worshipped in the form of a lingam.” Throughout the world there are many types of Lingas like the one in Patriam Trace, Trinidad which is also known as “Swayambhu” which means self-manifested. This Shiva lingam is surrounded by many Pepal trees and the lingam itself is secured by a concrete structure. The history behind this Lingam stems from an encounter that Mr. Nackhaid said that he had with Lord Shiva himself after he was hired by a Mr.Nancoo to clear grass.
The dream (encounter) describes how Lord Shiva told him that a spot where was working earlier had a lotus lingam and Mr.Nackhaid was overwhelmed by emotions for his deity had appeared to him. The following day he returned to the very spot to see a baby lingam. The Lingam is surrounded by several Jhandis and a beautiful painting of Lord Shiva.(2) “The Maha Lingam is still growing and instantaneously intensifying the depth of faith and devotion within the society at each inch of its growth. In fact, five new Lingas have sprouted under the enormous Pepal tree over recent time; two medium Lingas and three small Lingas. The number of pilgrims and devotees has also increased and the structure has also evolved”. This has become a pilgrimage site for many Hindus in Trinidad and many have described their experience at the lingam as one of a sense of bliss with god. It is said to calm one’s mind and allow an individual to realise their purpose in life. The Ganga Dhaara is another pilgrimage site in Trinidad and is located in Blanchicheusse in the Northern Range. Hindus in Trinidad make the trip to celebrate the Ganga Dashara festival which celebrates the coming of the Ganga to earth and it usually occurs in the middle of the year. (3)“The Ganga Dhaara site was first discovered in the early 90’sby Ravi Ji along with other members of the Hindu Prachar Kendra as they were driving along the North Coast road. The spiritual resonance of the site captivated them and it was chosen as the site where the festival of Ganga Dashara was re-inroduced by the Hindu Prachar Kendra in 1994. For the devotees who have been coming sometimes in the thousands, this is their own Ganga Mata flowing in Trinidad.”
The Ganga Dhashahara festival and the Ganga Dhaara site have both gained popularity as the years have gone by since its discovery. The site has been developed to mirror the original Ganga site in India with a Ganesh Staan at the entrance of the site where devotees pray to Lord Ganesh which is tradition way for Hindus to open their prayer ceremonies. There was also a main Puja area where discourse is performed which is immediately followed by the “Ardhanaarishwar ghaat” where newly married couples go to seek blessing for a healthy marriage which is then followed by the “Hanuman Ghaat” where the Hanuman Chalisa( the song of worship for Lord Hanuman) is chanted throughout the entire day. Finally , there is the “Mundan Sanskar ghaat” where baby boys receive their first haircut; a conscious effort was made by a Hindu man by the name of Prachar Kendra to provide the Hindu community with a spot to carry out this ritual as it is practiced regularly on the bank of the ganjes. The festival also honors women have had outstanding service to the community and is celebrated in honour of the deity Ganga Devi, and is given the title of ‘ganga ke beti’. (4)“As the years have gone by the festival has been highlighting environmental and eco-awareness, attempting to raise community and social consciousness of the consequences of environmental degradation and what can be done to conserve it. At the end of the day a Ganga murti is submerged in the deepest part of the river, aarti is done and boats made of coconuts carrying lit deyas are floated down the river.” The ganga Dhaara and the Ganga Dashahara festival involve the hindu community in experiencing the spiritual awakening and sensory arousal of the devotee in the “Tirtha” at Trinidad’s own Ganga. These two pilgrimage sites play a major role in the Hindu community as it allows them a chance to pay tribute to the deities. It is described as a life changing experience where they become in tuned with nature and the deities; it also provides them with a chance to understand their culture from how it is practiced in India.
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(1) Narine Shruti. National Council of Indian Culture Annual Commemorative Magazine 24th Edition, Divali Nagar 2010, Tirtha, Global Hindu Pilgrimage Sites. Pg 18.
(3) National Council of Indian Culture Annual Commemorative Magazine 24th Edition, Divali Nagar 2010, Tirtha, Global Hindu Pilgrimage Sites. Pg 24.
(4). National Council of Indian Culture Annual Commemorative Magazine 24th Edition, Divali Nagar 2010, Tirtha, Global Hindu Pilgrimage Sites. Pg 24.