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Nov 5, 1998

Hindus celebrate Diwali

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On the Eve of the Hurricane Mitch threat, the Indian community of Belize was celebrating its new year. Patrick Jones was invited to be a part of the observance and to find out more about the important contributions of Hindus to Belizean society.

They may be thousands of miles away from the motherland, but there are some things that will always be an integral part of the Hindu culture, no matter where they make their home.

Indra Castillo, Treasurer, Indian Community

“Diwali, according to the Hindus, it is a celebration of from darkness unto light. In other words what we are saying here is that the Demon Rawana, he was destroyed on this day so everybody gets together, family gets together in little puja, they sing songs, they dance, in celebration that they have taken totally over by lighting the whole entire kingdom.”

The traditionally close-knit local community, recently gave us an opportunity to experience a bit of their lifestyle and the occasion we looked-in on, was a symbolic celebration of a new beginning.

Indra Castillo

“This is why, if you look around you would see a tremendous amount of small clay utensils filled with an oil and a wick. And this is symbolical, it is known as a diya. It is actually telling you that we have totally demolished darkness and now we are unto light.”

Dance performances by children and young people… and even by the adults, were the heart of the Diwali celebration last month.

Indra Castillo

“The Indian community is a very close knitted community. They are very much family oriented. People might even call them clannish but they do look out for each other and they are a very united group of people.”

Although they’re a close community, Castillo says Hindus do not work in isolation. As a matter of fact she says, they have been silently making quite a contribution in several areas. It’s just that they haven’t been trumpeting their accomplishments from the roof tops.

Q: “Indra, how is the Indian community in Belize? How are they doing?”

Indra Castillo

“Well we have been doing a tremendous amount of work you know. Actually we do not really go publishing it, because it is a traditional thing that Hindus don’t really go about boasting about what they do and how much they have been doing. But every year, and as a matter of act, nearly every month, the Hindus from the Indian community, different groups, even individuals, even families, they go to the Children’s Home, they go to the old folks home, they do a lot of donations. every month as a matter of fact there is a Sangham group which is a group of Indian ladies, they go to the mental institution and they do donations, they visit with the people, they sit and chat they play music for them, they allow them a bit of activity.”

Patrick Jones

“So it’s not Bombay, or New Dehli or Calcutta; but the significance of the celebration is no less diminished. It’s a celebration of new beginnings for the Indian community, where hope springs eternal for prosperity in every aspect of their personal, spiritual and business life. Patrick Jones for News Five.”

Here’s to new beginnings for the Indian community.

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