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 two-island Caribbean nation near Venezuela.
Temples located in Couva and in the prison towns of 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 around the world 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 large red letters that read “Read Exodus 20:3-4”
The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible. It is part of the Old Testament and tells the myth of the Exodus in which the Israelites are said to have left slavery in biblical Egypt under the 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 appeals to monotheism and against “idol worship”
“You will have no other gods before me.”
“You shall not make an image to yourself in the form of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters below.”
Pandit Satyanand Maharaj of Carli Bay Temple Kali Mata said the vandals attacked after devotees completed the Navaratri puja and left for their homes. He said, “Today they (the devotees) woke up to find the mandir broken and their murti or consecrated image of the Divine Mother destroyed and smeared with olive oil! A warning from Exodus 20:3-4 has been painted on the exterior. A report was made to Couva Police Station, however, no receipt for the report was issued by the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service).
The temple priest 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 coexistence enjoyed by religious groups. This act of violence under the guise of Christianity must be condemned by all believers.
It is reported that many regular devotees shed tears upon seeing the broken murti. Sadly, police apathy when Hindu temples are attacked and desecrated seems to be a global phenomenon – from ‘secular’ Bharat, to Islamic Bangladesh, to the Christian UK, to a predominantly Christian Caribbean nation.
Pandit Maharaj said that a call has been made in this Navratri to help restore this simple and humble shrine as soon as possible. “The service will continue overnight. Kali Mata is more than a murti, it is a successful life philosophy. It is she who grants miracles. Members have sworn to continue worshiping and will not be intimidated by wayward people,” he said.
The attack on the Kali Mata temple came just a week after a Ganesh mandir was desecrated and stolen in the city of Penal on the night of September 22. Devotees of Lakrani Ganesh Mandir at Gopie Trace discovered the next morning that the temple had been burglarized. from the back door. It was discovered that a Sri Ganesh murti was broken, clothes had been removed from other murtis and a cigarette butt had been left behind. A speaker box worth between $3,000 and $4,000 was stolen.
Ganesh Mandir vice-president Rekha Cassie, who first discovered the vandalism, said: “We saw that the temple had been broken into through the back door. The person kicked open the door, broke the locks and entered the temple, ransacked the temple, entered inside, searched the murtis between the clothes to see if there were any money stashed there, damaged our donation box and took one of the temple speakers.”
Police suspect the man of breaking into the temple with the intention of stealing money donated by devotees. Apart from these crimes, a Shiv mandir in Carapo was desecrated and robbed twice in May and June, which included the removal of deity necklaces and the cooking of corned beef on site in the same pots usually used for cooking. of prasad. A burglary occurred at Princes Town Shiv Mandir in May, and money was stolen but no desecration took place.
US-based Hindu leader Rajan Zed urged Trinidad and Tobago President Paula-Mae Weekes and Prime Minister Dr Keith Christopher Rowley to take this issue seriously and urgently and to take prompt action to put an end to these crimes and ensure that such incidents do not occur. not happen in the future. He also urged Weekes and Rowley to visit the vandalized Kali Mata Temple in Carli Bay and meet with the Hindu community to reassure them.
Hindus make up around 20% of the T&Ts, with Christians, mostly of African descent, forming the majority at over 60%. Hindus were brought there by British colonizers from 1845 as indentured laborers, a politically correct term for what was effectively slavery on British-owned plantations. T&T gained independence from the UK in 1962, but Hindus and PIOs have always been marginalized.
The Pentecostals, the most aggressive of the US-based evangelical and fundamentalist Christian sects that 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 the Afro-Trinidadian and Indo-Trinidadian communities.