Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 16th 2017 Contents Some religious sects recognise
the value of self-flagella-
tion as a way of "sanctifying" the
flesh. Nobody comes to drag you
out of your house or hand you the
whip or the chain. You wake up in
the morning with beating yourself
bloody in mind. The whip is there
and you have worked out where
and when the deed is to be done,
usually with spectators at hand.
In the secular world, experi-
mentation with S&M (Sadism and
Masochism) ranges from light
slaps to heavy blows, inexplicably
(in my view) enjoyed by both giver
and receiver. But, hey, consenting
adults et cetera and so forth.
Then there is the annual Pano-
rama competition, well known for
its long-suffering faithful. And,
now, Panorama semi-finals 2017,
which took the licks to new levels.
Now, don't get me wrong. I
am a veteran of over 30 years
and staunch Panoramian. I have
stood in the long, long line at fi-
nals when the gate stayed closed
because the stands were being
"cleaned." I have seen the best
seats being "sold out" even before
they have gone on sale. I have sat
next to freeloaders wearing badges
who talked through entire shows,
and met culture ministers at their
first and last Panorama.
But I also listen to, talk about
and write extensively about what
I consider to be the greatest single
feature of life in T&T---not Pano-
rama, mind you, but the steelpan.
I pay close attention to the instru-
ment, the social organisation to
bring bands together and the mu-
sicianship to generate increasingly
creative artistic output. Great
Now, back to Panorama
All began relatively smoothly
even when my unfamiliarity with
the process showed as I walked
up to the Lotto ticket counter.
The short lady in front had lodged
a complex mix of bets I did not
understand. Then it was my turn.
Two Panorama tickets, plus $5 on
the number 12.
I walked away confidently. At
last, a fool-proof and convenient
approach to Panorama ticket
sales, albeit by cash only. At least
the Lotto people have the IT sys-
tems to monitor the number of
seats sold against the number of
tickets available, together with
the security features to minimise
the risk of counterfeiting. It has
to be difficult to replicate a ticket
that carries a potential value of
millions. We safe!
Why hadn't Pan Trinbago
thought about this before? Did it
have to take a crisis of sorts for the
NCC to commandeer this aspect
of the annual proceedings to make
Fast forward. Panorama semis
day. The Panorama veterans (I
have crossed 30 finals, Peter Ray
Blood, 54 years) would know that
at the semi-finals you hear some
of the best pan music anywhere
on the planet. The bands need to
pull out all stops. Unlike the fi-
nals, they have not "reached" yet.
They take no chances. Nothing
needlessly fancy will take place.
Good pan. Fine.
Now, here we are. A promised
9 am start, 58 bands, small, me-
dium, large. The weather is nice.
Panorama posse engaged. All sys-
Wait! Fifty-eight bands? Yes,
we had known for weeks now. The
whip had come out of the box. We
all saw it coming. But still ... the
shades of grey in life that make
you go hmm, yet you still venture
Facebook banter now turns to a
dead serious inquiry. The math-
ematician on the block makes his
calculations. Big Bands by about
10 - 10.30 pm --- 46 bands later!
So, Howard Dottin gets the
maths right and you get there
in time for the Medium Bands.
Scratchy radio coverage makes
you kick yourself for missing some
of the Small Bands. But you're
Now, Medium Band number
four and an announcement that
the North Stand has reached full
capacity and a potential disaster
is in the offing. I had reckoned
that the "Greens" crowd would
have further infected the usually
boisterous, partying hordes over
there, but not to such an extent.
Indeed, from across the stage I
recognised them. Mostly, but not
exclusively, young, fidgety and
unused to the rigours of extended
attention to a single source other
than a mobile screen.
The rhythm sections stopped on
cue, but you heard the lingering
chatter. The absence of a "concert
culture," is how I usually put it.
Happens over here in the Grand
Stand as well. A band is play-
ing and the nutsman continues
making his sales pitch, people
walk sluggishly to their seats, the
people behind you continue their
noisy banter and some ministerial
entourage walks down an aisle. In
the middle of a performance.
So, did the NLCB get this one
wrong? I doubt it. So, what was
the "miscommunication" Kenny
De Silva spoke about that had the
North Stand reaching (weight)
How come there was so much
space in the Grand Stand, es-
pecially the "Special Reserve"
section? Usually this section is
at least half full with people who
arrive late and are served eats and
Then, 13 hours later, with the
show still going strong, the first
of the Big Bands enter the stage.
Someone texts to say "I reach. I
in North Stand." No time to ask
Some of us had actually planned
to get to what is usually the sweet
end. But most preferred to keep
their jobs and/or be useful to hu-
manity the following morning.
By 3.45 am it was all over and we
knew this year, for the semis, that
strap came out soaking wet for all
guardian.co.tt Thursday, February 16, 2017
THE GREAT GODDESS ALIVE AND WELL
One of the most important
prayers in the Hindu tradi-
tion reads: "Tvameva Mata cha
Pita Tvameva, Tvameva Bandhu
cha Sakha Tvameva, Tvameva
Vidya Dravinam Tvameva, Tva-
meva Sarvam Mama Deva Deva."
Translated in English, this San-
skrit prayer means: "You truly are
my Mother and You truly are my
Father, You truly are my Relative
and You truly are my Friend, You
truly are my Knowledge and You
truly are my Wealth, You truly are
my All, my God of Gods."
In the Hindu tradition we see
God both in male and in female. In
fact, some Hindu religious leaders
will even proclaim that God is in
the neuter, in the wind that blows,
the sun that shines, the moon at
night and even the waters. The
Hindu sees God in His Creation!
Two western writers, John
Stratton Hawley, professor of
Religion at Bernard College and a
director at Columbia University
and Donna Marie Wulff, associate
professor of Religion at Brown
University have edited a book in
English titled Devi, Goddesses of
India, in which they point out:
"One of the critical developments
in the recent history of Western
religion has been the effort to
make clearer contact with the
feminine dimension in religious
experience. This has taken a myr-
iad of forms.
"Women are now ordained
ministers and rabbis in a number
of communities where a few years
ago the idea would have been
laughed away. Gender-neutral
language is mandated in many
hymnals, prayer books and new
translations of the Bible. Much
attention has been focused on
feminine images for God in the
scriptures and elsewhere.
"Groups of women have la-
boured to rescue the word witch
from its infamous past by be-
coming witches themselves---and
demonstrating whose infamy it
actually was, when witches were
burned at Salem and elsewhere.
"Finally, there has been a deter-
mined assault on the very history
of Western religion in an effort to
discover at its origins a Goddess
who was widely worshipped be-
fore the champions of patriarchy
suppressed her. Could she not be
worshipped again? Indeed she is.
"The Abrahamic faiths none-
theless place many barriers in
the way of seeing the divine as
feminine. Those who assert that
a coherent culture of the Goddess
once prevailed across the Medi-
terranean world and Europe ac-
knowledged that it has long since
been defiled, broken, obscured.
In the task of reconstruction---at
the scholarly level as well as in the
realm of practice---great creativity
will be required before Westerners
can discover the Goddess again.
"Not so for India. All through
the archaeological remains of the
Indus Valley Civilization, which
created a new standard of culture
for South Asia in the third and
second millennia BCE, one finds a
distinctive set of female terracotta
figurines---thousands of them. We
cannot tell exactly what functions
they served or what they meant to
those who made and kept them,
but there seems no question about
their ubiquity or importance.
"Moreover, the styles of mod-
eling they display were carried
forward into subsequent ages.
Female sculptures from the Mau-
ryan period (fourth to second cen-
turies BCE) and even later often
look very much alike their Indus
prototypes. By that time one also
has much clearer evidence of a
religion that projected the divine
in both masculine and feminine
terms. True, the Aryan civilisation
that became increasingly dom-
inant in North India at the level
of high culture from 1000 BCE
onward allotted only minor roles
to goddesses, but the material ev-
idence shows that the indigenous
culture never died out.
"In fact, one scholar recently
suggested that 'the history of the
Hindu tradition can be seen as a
re-emergence of the feminine.'
As the Sanskrit textual tradition
developed up through the seven-
teenth and eighteenth centuries
CE, the place of the Goddess in it
became evermore firmly estab-
"Thus, in the religious life of
Hindus today, there is no need to
resuscitate the Great Goddess.
She is alive and well. She prolifer-
ates in every new form of herself
(many would say, in fact, that she
is fundamentally plural rather
than singular), and she animates
the religious lives of hundreds of
millions of people. Her generic
name in Sanskrit and the many
Indian languages related to it is
'Devi,' a word that, like its Latin
and Greek cognates dea and thea,
means simply 'goddess.' This is
a book about Devi, singular and
plural, the Goddess and Goddess-
es of India."
Hindus in T&T and through-
out the Hindu world set aside an
entire week for special devotions
to the female aspect in the form
of a young virgin. This period of
prayer and worship is showered
upon young girls who have not
yet experienced their menstrual
In recommending the book,
Devi, Goddesses of India, Elaine
Pacels of Princeton University
wrote, "The monotheistic reli-
gions of Judaism, Christianity
and Islam have severely limited
the portrayal of the divine as
feminine. But in Hinduism, 'God'
very often means 'Goddess.' This
extraordinary collection explores
12 different Hindu goddesses, all
of whom are in some way related
to Devi, the Great Goddess. They
range from the liquid goddess-en-
ergy of the River Ganges to the
possessing, entrancing heat of
Bhagavati and Seranvali."
FIFTY SHADES OF PAN The Panorama veterans (I
have crossed 30 finals, Peter
Ray Blood, 54 years) would
know that at the semi-finals
you hear some of the best pan
music anywhere on the planet.
The bands need to pull out
all stops. Unlike the Finals,
they have not "reached" yet.
They take no chances. Nothing
needlessly fancy will take
place. Good pan.
Thus, in the religious life
of Hindus today, there is
no need to resuscitate the
Great Goddess. She is alive
and well. She proliferates in
every new form of herself
(many would say, in fact, that
she is fundamentally plural
rather than singular), and she
animates the religious lives of
hundreds of millions of people.
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