5 things to know about the Divali Nagar
Photo: The first Divali Nagar, held in 1986. Photo courtesy the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Divali Nagar has become a well-known landmark and the site of many events for the festival of Divali, both locally and internationally.
Here are five things to know about the Divali Nagar, according to the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago:
1. The Divali Nagar is the largest Divali celebration outside of India
The National Trust said the Divali Nagar is the largest celebration of Divali outside India in one space. The Nagar, which means ‘city’, is also a place of pilgrimage for the Indian Diaspora:
“Today Divali Nagar is far more than a centre for the annual celebration of the Deya Divali. Since its inception, it has become a teerath (a place of pilgrimage) for the persons from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Guyana, Suriname, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Diaspora settled in the USA, Canada, UK and Holland.” (Samaroo, 2015)
The National Trust said the Nagar attracted approximately 150,000 people over the nine-night period in 2019.
The Nagar takes place every year, nine nights prior to Divali, ending on the night before Divali.
This year due to COVID-19 Restrictions the NCIC is having a Divali Nagar media presentation on television and social media entitled “Yaadein: The Memories of a Lifetime”.
2. The Divali Nagar was originally held in a car park
Before its current location at Narsaloo Ramaya Marg Road, the location of the Divali Nagar was initially held in 1986 at the Mid Centre Mall car park.
Nevertheless, the first event recorded over 20,000 visitors:
‘The NCIC expected 10,000 people to visit. However, on the first night, 23,000 people visited the Divali Nagar, which at the point in time was the largest celebration of the Indian Diaspora in Trinidad.’
The NAR Government granted land to the NCIC to host the Divali Nagar, where it stands today.
3. The Divali Nagar is registered as a heritage asset
The Divali Nagar site is on the Heritage Asset Register which is the official list of Trinidad and Tobago’s historic sites that are worthy of notation and preservation.
4. The Divali Nagar is the site of the country’s only intact train
The National Trust said while there are a few remaining engines in Trinidad (like Railway Engine No. 11), the train at Divali Nagar is considered the only Train because the engine is connected to the taskar which carried canes.
In October 2019 the 4th Tunapuna Scout Group together the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago did a clean-up of the last remaining Train in T&T.
5. The Divali Nagar contains a precious ancient text
Located at the Divali Nagar is one of the oldest known surviving Ramcharitramanas (Tulsi Ramayan) texts brought from India by indentured immigrants to Trinidad.
There is an ongoing drive to collect historical artefacts the Heritage Centre (established in 2016) at the Divali Nagar.
Read more about the Divali Nagar here: https://bit.ly/3pdzJiA