Thursday, October 17, 2013
Arima, Trinidad - Santa Rosa First People’s Community chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez is calling for a national holiday to commemorate the Caribs, the first people to live in T&T. Hernandez was speaking after the smoke ceremony and street procession in Arima.
“The event today was in recognition of our history and Hyarima’s resistance to the Spanish in October 1637. There is a call for an international holiday on the 14th in recognition of the first people of this land. I know the authorities will have to think for another public holiday long and hard before they consider it,” he said. Hernandez said if the holiday was not possible the authorities could consider a one-day holiday event like the Chinese were granted in 2006, to commemorate 200 years since the arrival of Chinese immigrants.
Speaking about the contingent of Caribs from the Caribbean and South America, he said: “Spiritual leaders from Suriname and the other countries were called in for sanctification and interaction. To guide us in spirituality for this purpose. Some are still practicing the original tradition.” Yesterday, the smoke ceremony began at the statue of Hyarima at Hollis Avenue. Hyarima was said to have been known by the Dutch and Spanish forces who referred to him as “the great Chieftain of the Nepuyo people.”
They filled calabash bowls with bay leaves, incense, shells, cassava wine, hibiscus, poui, lilac and other flowers and offered them up to the great spirit. The women and men wore traditional outfits with crocheted tops and feathers in fire-engine red. They beat drums, blew into a large shell and chanted. Hernandez addressed the crowd that gathered to pay homage to the creator.
“We invoke ourselves and surrender ourselves to him/her recognising that we as humans are weak. He is strong and we ask forgiveness for our weakness,” he said. During the ceremony, first one, then another of the women had a “manifestation.” This manifestation, another one of the women said, was “an ancestor showing they were still around because the body is dead and the spirit is alive.”
Hernandez prayed for the ancestors, peace, a stoppage to all negativity and for the ancestors to keep coming in dreams before the group headed up Woodford Street to the Santa Rosa First People’s Centre at Paul Mitchell Street.