The Trinidad Guardian / Rising poverty levels and unemployment are having a negative impact on La Divina Pastora festivities in Siparia with a drastic decline in attendance this year.
While some said the traditional celebrations are not being upheld by the youth, church leaders said the poor turnout was the result of economic hardship.
When the T&T Guardian visited the church yesterday, the lines, which usually stretch to the roadway, was non-existent.
Only 15 people stood inside the prayer room waiting to make offerings of flowers, olive oil, rice, money and gold jewelry to the dark-skinned statue.
Known as the Miracle Mother of La Divina Pastora, Catholics celebrate her as the Virgin Mary while Hindus called her Siparee or Supari Mai (mother of Siparia) which represents the Hindu Goddesses Kali, Durga and Lakshmi.
Church stalwart Juliana Verna Fermin said she was surprised by the poor turnout. “I think a lot of the traditions are dying. A lot of people who were part of this have died. The church needs to be better organised else this celebration will not go on. We have a lot less people now,” Fermin said.
She also agreed that people were suffering from financial hardship and this could have also contributed to the poor turnout.
However, church member John Ramdeen, who has been engaged in La Divina Pastora festivities for over 50 years, said he too was surprised by the poor turnout. “I think we have about 15 per cent less people and about 25 per cent less people who have come here to collect alms,” Ramdeen said.
Among those who came to make offerings to the statue were Lisa Seepersad of Chaguanas.
“I offered jewelry and money and I expect her blessings. She helped me before and I know that she will help me again,” Seepersad said in reference to the statue. She said this was the second time she came to the church to make offerings.
Nicole Samaroo, of Caroni, who came with her three children aged 10, four and six months, said she was expecting to get some money to buy food for her family.
“I took a taxi to come here. I spent the night out here last night and I may stay here again tonight. My husband cannot find a job and it is really hard taking care of the children. People told me if I come here I will get some help,” Samaroo said.
Sukho Bridgemohan, who has been cutting people’s hair outside the church for 41 years, said he was also surprised by the poor turnout.
“Usually around this time we would have about 100 people already getting haircuts. This year, we only had about 25 people,” Bridgemohan added. He also said the La Divina traditions were dying because people were less spiritual than before.
La Divina tradition dying
Con Información de The Trinidad Guardian
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