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Bacchanal brewing at ‘holy rock’ site

...Landowner: Businessman trying to take $$ donated

By Carolyn Ramdass carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

There is controversy brewing over who should be responsible for the rock some see shaped in the image of the Hindu God Ganesha.

The rock discovered in an agricultural estate at Rochard Road, Penal, has attracted hundreds of visitors since being highlighted in the media last week. Some are praying and worshipping at the site.

And devotees have already donated more than $50,000 to construct a mandir at the site.

But two groups in the community have been wrangling over the cash, causing tension among worshippers.

Radesh Jagmohan, who said his father holds a 30-year lease for the property, claims a businessman is attempting to take control of the rock and the money.

Jagmohan said the sacred rock was discovered on his family’s property at Rochard Road a month ago. “My father has a 30-year lease for this agricultural land. He planted crops here and we worked with him. We know of the rock a long time now. But only this year when we were cleaning and we saw milk coming from it, we came out and talked about it. We wanted people to know about this miracle. Now I am wondering if we did the right thing by making it public,” he said.

Jagmohan, 25, said a group of 20 youths from the community have been cleaning the area since the murti was revealed.

He said a donation box was placed at the site, allowing devotees to give money towards constructing a mandir.

“We counted the money on Wednesday and we got $50,000. We had prayers this week so I am sure it is more by now. We want to use this money to build a temple,” he said.

A private contractor cleared a pathway for worshippers to get to the shrine which is 250 feet from the roadway. 

Jagmohan said the man and a group of elderly men from the community were attempting to overthrow his family to gain control of the area. “They asked to meet our group last Sunday. So we went and they started electing an executive. They want us to bring the money to them and they will control everything,” he said.

Jagmohan said his group was not willing to hand over the murti or the money to the new group. “We have a plan to use the money to build a temple. I know we are youths and we don’t know much. But we are trying to build a temple for worshippers to come and pray and make offerings. We don’t want anybody taking this away from us. We are genuine people who want to do the right thing,” he said.

Jagmohan said his family was visited by officials of the Ministry of Food Production last week. “They confirmed that all my father’s documents on the land are in order,” he said.

The Express made several attempts to contact the contractor yesterday, but calls to his cellphone went unanswered.

Minister of Tourism Chandresh Sharma said an application for a temple in Penal would be considered. He said Trinidad was fast becoming known for its religious tourism, where so many people of different religions pray side by side. 

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