Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 4th 2017 Contents news A11
Saturday, March 4, 2017 guardian.co.tt
The Hindu community is split
on whether the costume worn by
President Anthony Carmona in
the Apna Desh section of Brian
MacFarlane's 2017 Carnival
band, Cazabon---The Art of the
Living, crossed the religious
The costume, which included a
dhoti and beads, sparked a small
debate on social media with some
who identified themselves as Hin-
dus describing the portrayal as dis-
respectful to the religion.
MacFarlane has refused comment
on the controversy but designers of
the costume, the House of Jaipur,
said it was inspired by an 1850 Caz-
abon painting, Indian Group, which
depicted a couple in typical Indian
attire. It said the portrayal was a de-
piction of the diversity that exists in
However, spiritual head of SWA-
HA Paramacharya Pundit Hardeo
Persad is urging Carnival bandlead-
ers who plan to bring presentations
which feature symbols or articles of
religious significance to consider the
likely impact on the sensitivities of
the religious community. He called
for "consultation and communica-
tion in order to clarify doubts and
Persad said: "Consultation brings
enlightenment and fosters greater
harmony within society,"
Secretary General of the Sanatan
Dharma Maha Sabha Sat Maharaj
said consultations are only neces-
sary if there is something resembling
a religious item.
"In this case that is not. It is typ-
ical Indian wear they wearing that
all over India, in particular in the
states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh
hundreds of millions of men wear
the dhoti daily."
Maharaj felt too much was being
made of a non issue.
"I have no problem with it. There
is absolutely no need to make an is-
sue. There is nothing there that is
offensive to Hinduism," he said.
"The beads which formed part
of the costume are not a malaa," he
said, referring to the chains worn
by pundits which are made from
the Rudraksha tree or wood from
the sandal wood or tulsi tree.
The President was wearing plastic
beads, Maharaj said.
"If he had a conch shell and was
blowing it like a pundit that is a dif-
ferent matter, then we would have
an issue," he said.
Maharaj said long ago in Trinidad
the dhoti was common garb.
"Now pundits wear it to perform
pooja. My own view is that there is
nothing there that is offensive," he
However Persad said the contro-
versy over the portrayal "signals the
need for greater awareness of the
sensitivities of our population."
"The wave of reaction that has
been created amongst members
of the Hindu community since the
portrayal is an indication that there
is need for deeper insight and ap-
preciation for each other's culture."
Persad said bandleaders need to
acknowledge the prevailing emo-
tions of the country's multi-reli-
gious and multi-cultural population
and recognise the need for "careful
deliberation when conceptualising
and realising their artistic manifes-
This, he said, will indeed help
"safeguard freedom of expression
and enhance the creative nature of
the depictions, while preventing
potentially deleterious effects to a
particular religious grouping."
Fifth Company school parents plan protest over conditions...
RADHICA DE SILVA
Despite protests by parents
of Fifth Company Baptist School
last week, Minister in the Minis-
try of Education Dr Lovell Fran-
cis, says no electrical work can
be done at the school until the
vacation period starts.
In an interview, Francis said the
school needs an extensive electri-
cal upgrade. Saying it is unwise to
close down the school during the
term to facilitate the upgrade, Lovell
said this can only be done during
the vacation period. Francis also
said teachers were not allowed to
withhold their labour unless the
school is deemed unsound by a state
agency like the OSH or the Ministry
He also said that all electrical
bulbs have already been secured and
the louvres will be replaced before
the extensive upgrade begins.
However, Lovell's comments are
not going down well with parents
who say they will escalate protests if
the ministry does not repair broken
louvres and fix sparking electrical
wires in the classroom which pose a
hazard to the students and teachers.
Parent Lisa Woods said since last
term the school has been experi-
encing an electrical malfunction
which caused a fire in a classroom.
Two months ago, a fluorescent
light toppled from the ceiling and
exploded on top of a student's head.
On February 15, another bulb broke,
following which teachers walked out
of the school saying it was not safe.
"The principal told us that this
was a disaster in the making and now
despite these incidents the school
has been deemed safe for occupation
even though nothing was done to
correct the problems," Woods said.
Pointing to broken louvres, black-
ened light bulbs and a broken front
gate, Woods said students were con-
tinuing to see sparks in their class-
rooms even though the authorities
had deemed the school safe.
Radha Buchoon, former vice
president of the PTA, alleged that
the majority of teachers report for
school late and the principal is not
accessible. "Every week children are
forced to participate in fund-rais-
ing activities to purchase items from
the school. Last Divali they were
charged $5 to come to school and
for Christmas everyone had to pay
$25," Buchoon said.
"This is a denominational school
and they get a subvention. Where
the money gone? Why do we have
to pay to fix basic problems in the
school," Buchoon added.
She said every term parents are
asked to buy hand sanitizers, white-
board markers and paper towels as
part of their book list.
Leotee Metoo said her daughter is
constantly harassed by other male
students when the teachers are
absent. She said on one occasion,
a classmate pulled a knife for her
son but nothing ever came out of it.
A source said since the broken
gate was padlocked onto the fence,
security has been of concern. The
report of illegal fund raising is also
being investigated by the ministry.
Masqueraders from Brian MacFarlane's Cazabon: The Art of Living parade along South Quay, Port-of-Spain, on
Carnival Tuesday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Minister: School needs electrical upgrade
Differing Hindu views
on President's costume
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