‘Nagar’ serenade for Rowley
IT was a birthday evening Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is unlikely to forget.
At the opening of Divali Nagar 2013 on Thursday, Rowley—attending with his wife, Sharon—was serenaded with a “Happy Birthday” from Chutney singer Rakesh Yankaran.
Yankaran’s unmistakable voice pleased a smiling Rowley, who nodded his thanks at the dedication.
Yankaran was also on stage to sing traditional Hindu bhajans for the annual festival village, run by the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC).
Absent was Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who held her own Divali dinner the same evening at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.
A number of patrons said they had come out to catch a glimpse of Persad-Bissessar, normally an annual guest. She was well represented, though, by a number of Cabinet members—ministers Devant Maharaj, Chandresh Sharma, Rudy Indarsingh, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, Dr Roodal Moonilal Dr Bhoe Tewarie.
This year’s chief guest was Captain Pratima Dharm, the first Hindu Chaplain in the history of the US Army.
Dharm, upon being presented with a gift by NCIC president Deokinanan Sharma and Nagar chairman Sahadeo Partap, touched the feet of both men in the traditional Hindu sign of respect.
In her address, she called on Hindus and anyone interested in the religion to “get to know” the deity Krishna, whom she credited with her success. “Lord Krishna is alive for me,” said Dharm, who wore her army uniform on stage.
She said Divali should be a way of life, and not a once-a year celebration.
The Nagar drew hundreds, who came to shop for Indian goods, sample the variety of local businesses which set up shop and, of course, to try the Nagar favourite, pepper roti, which is this year going for $15 a slice. —Kim Boodram