News day / Seeta Persad
THERE were huge crowds in Siparia yesterday as scores of worshippers made their way to the Siparia for the annual La Divina Pastora, also known as Supari Mai, festival.
People of different faiths lined up to do devotions to the statue.
Merlyn Baird of the La Divina Pastora Catholic Church said people began making their offerings
on Holy Thursday.
“We have had a steady flow of people throughout the night coming from as far as Port-of-Spain, Arima, Sangre Grande, Biche and south Trinidad to pray before the statue.”
Yesterday, several Hindu worshippers offered oil, rice, jewelry, rice and flowers.
There were also scores of people waiting on alms of clothes, food and money from the worshippers.
The name ‘Supari Mai’ means ‘Mother of Siparia’ in Hindi.
Parbatie Chandrakal, of Barrackpore, said she has been making the journey to Siparia for the past 24 years to offer olive oil, candles and flowers.
“I get a lot of relief from sickness and other problems when I make this offering.”
She was accompanied by her relative, Indra Ramgoolam, who also brought flowers to offer.
Ingrid Greene, of San Fernando, says she knows the statue to be the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.
“She is the mother who sends blessings to the people as she is the one Jesus chose to share his life with,” she said.
She said for the past 36 years, she has brought candles and oil to the church.
It is believed that this deity is the giver of miracles. Mothers pray that their children will be strong and healthy, and women, who are without children, pray for fertility. The statue holds a shepherd’s staff in her right hand, which is believed to contain a special power of its own.
The statue belongs to the La Divina Pastora Church. The Siparia Mission was established in the late 1750s when the last band of Spanish Capuchin priests came to Trinidad through Venezuela. Siparia was made a Roman Catholic parish in 1906. It is believed that people of Indian descent began making pilgrimages to Siparia in search of this deity.
By 1890, the statue was attracting large numbers of indentured workers. The practice of having a child’s first haircut on reaching the church grounds is practised by Hindus. This being traditional Hindu rite called ‘mundan samskaar’ (cutting of the first hair).
Hundreds seek blessing from Supari Mai
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