Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Temple in a Turbulent Sea

Destroy your enemy but heed your fate

The Temple in the sea was desecrated a few days ago. It came as a complete shock. The Sewdass Sadhu Temple in Carapichaima is one of the better known Hindu temples for the sensitive story behind it. It is the story of a simple farmer who missed the opportunity to worship and so built the temple over a period of several years before running foul of the law and having the temple threatened with destruction. This story stands side by side with stories we in Trinidad and Tobago have grown up with about Tubal Uriah ‘Buzz’ Butler and the formation of trade unions. His struggle is our small but endearing version of a Ghandi, or Mandela story. There was a very good interpretation of his life done at the University of the West Indies called Temple in the Sea. It was put on by the Creative Arts Centre many years ago. The temple has stood for many years, refurbished and lovingly restored. The fact that anyone would break in and destroy the place is deeply distressing to the citizens of our country. Intolerance of any kind must not be ignored. We pride ourselves on our diversity, it is what makes Trinidad and Tobago the country it is and the place we all love.

Thebookmann and I visited the temple hours after the funeral of the little boy who was killed by teenagers last year. We remembered how beautiful and peaceful the place was. People were still walking around, quietly taking in the 180 degree view of the sea. The temple is the sort of place where you can imagine yourself seeing Mr. Sadhu with his bucket and his dream. Hindu temples are religious spaces that are open to the public. The caregivers are always professional, kind and humble in their approach to non Hindu’s. In fact, many, if not all religious bodies in Trinidad and Tobago are open to other faiths, and it is with that in mind that this disrespect is particularly unsettling. Where else in the world are there Chinese Baptists for example? We are very proud of our melding of faiths. So why such an incident? What is the motive? Hopefully in denouncing this incident, we will be more aware of how important it is to stand together as a nation. - Adele

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