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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Hindu temples desecrated and robbed in Trinidad, fanatics scrawl Bible verse on wall

The reality that Hindus are not safe in any part of the Abrahamic-dominated world was once again vindicated when two Hindu temples were desecrated, vandalized and robbed last week in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), the dual-island Caribbean nation near Venezuela.

Temples located in Couva and Penal towns on the island of Trinidad were attacked. On September 28, a Kali Mata temple in Carli Bay in Couva was desecrated by religious extremists, at a time when Hindus worldwide are celebrating Navratri/Durga Puja, a celebration of the Divine Mother and her various forms. Maa Kali’s murti was damaged and smeared with olive oil. The attackers also wrote graffiti in big red letters that says “Read Exodus 20:3-4”

The Book of Exodus is second book of the Bible. It is part of the Old Testament and narrates the myth of the Exodus in which Israelites are said to have left slavery in Biblical Egypt under leadership of their Prophet Moses who then receives the ’10 commandments’ from God (Yahweh) at Mount Sinai.

Exodus chapter 20, verses 3 and 4 are calls to monotheism and against ‘idol worship’

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”

Pandit Satyanand Maharaj of the Carli Bay Kali Mata temple said that the vandals attacked after devotees had completed Navaratri puja and left for their homes. He said, “Today they (devotees) woke to find the mandir broken into and their murti or consecrated image of the Divine Mother destroyed and smeared with olive oil! A warning from Exodus 20:3-4 was painted on the outside. A report was made to the Couva Police Station, however, no receipt for the report was issued by the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service).”

The temple priest further added, “While Trinidad and Tobago is a multi-religious country where we all enjoy freedom of worship, it seems that some people are bent on destroying the peaceful co-existence that religious groups enjoy. This act of violence under the guise of Christianity must be condemned by all people of Faith.”

It is reported that many regular devotees shed tears seeing the smashed murti. Sadly, apathy of police when Hindu temples are attacked and desecrated seems to be a worldwide phenomenon – from ‘secular’ Bharat, to Islamic Bangladesh, to Christian UK, to a Caribbean nation with a Christian majority.

Pandit Maharaj said that a call has gone out in this Navratri to help restore this simple and humble shrine in the quickest possible time. “Service will continue nightly. Kali Mata is more than a murti, she is a philosophy for successful living. She is the granter of miracles. Members have vowed to continue to worship and will not be intimidated by misguided persons,” he said.

The attack on the Kali Mata temple took place just a week after a Ganesh mandir was desecrated and robbed in the town of Penal on the night of September 22. Worshipers at Lakrani Ganesh Mandir at Gopie Trace discovered the next morning that the temple was broken into from the back door. It was found that a Sri Ganesh murti was broken, clothes were pulled out from other murtis, and a cigarette butt was left behind. A speaker box worth between $3,000 and $4,000 was stolen.

Latchman (Laxman) Cassie, of the Lakrani Ganesh Mandir in Penal, shows the broken Sri Ganesh murti

The Ganesh mandir’s vice president Rekha Cassie, who first discovered the vandalism, said, “We saw the temple was broken into through the back door. The person kicked open the door, burst up the locks and entered the temple, ransacked the temple, came inside, searched the murtis between the clothes to see if there was money hidden there, damaged our donation box and took one of the speakers from the temple.”

The police suspect that the man had broken into the temple with the intention of stealing money offered by devotees. Apart from these crimes, a Shiv mandir in Carapo was desecrated and robbed twice in May and June, which included removing necklaces of deities, and cooking of corned beef on the premises in the same pots usually used for cooking prasad. A break-in happened at Princes Town Shiv Mandir in May, and some money was stolen but no desecration took place.

US-based Hindu leader Rajan Zed has urged Trinidad and Tobago President Paula-Mae Weekes and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley to take this issue seriously and urgently and launch swift action to put an end to such crimes and make sure that such incidents did not happen in the future. He also urged Weekes and Rowley to visit the vandalized Kali Mata Temple in Carli Bay and meet the Hindu community to reassure them.

Hindus constitute around 20% of T&T, with Christians, mostly of African origin, forming the majority at over 60%. Hindus were brought there by British colonizers from 1845 onwards as indentured laborers, a politically correct term for what was effectively slavery in the British-owned plantations. T&T won independence from UK in 1962, but Hindus and PIOs have always been marginalized.

Pentecostals, the most aggressive of US-based Christian evangelical, fundamentalist sects who openly denigrate Hindu Dharma as ‘satanism’, are the fastest growing religious group in the country. Christian missionary activity targeting Hindus has exacerbated latent tensions between between the Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian communities.

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  1. It should be noted that ethnic-wise, Trinidad’s population is half of African origin and half of Indian origin. The reason why the Hindu population is closer to 20% of the population than 50% is because the rest have long converted to Presbyterianism and other Christian sects to gain educational and job opportunities and entry into a more posh middle-class. Even now, Christians of Indian origin are the most vibrant proselytizers of the evangelical churches, happily funded by foreign mega-churches. Many so-called Hindus, the children and grandchildren of Brahmins, now give their children Biblical names as a sign of being modern and Western.

  2. Very unfortunate incident! The non-intervening Hidus practice their own Dharma. In spite of that they become the victim of religious bigotry — this time from Pentecostals, the most aggressive of US-based Christian evangelical, fundamentalist sects in T & T. Justice from the Govt. is expectedly very marginal, rather nil.


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