Kamla Persad lauds Maha Sabha for keeping East Indian culture alive 

She was speaking at the Indian Day Arrival celebrations at the Penal Rock (SDMS) Hindu School. The former prime minister said if people do not know where they came from and do not honour their roots and ancestors, then there is no future for them.

Kamla Persad lauds Maha Sabha for keeping East Indian culture alive 
Kamla Persad lauds Maha Sabha for keeping East Indian culture alive 

Trinidad and Tobago: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday praised the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) for keeping East Indian culture alive and contributing to the development of Trinidad and Tobago.

She was speaking at the Indian Day Arrival celebrations at the Penal Rock (SDMS) Hindu School. The former prime minister said if people do not know where they came from and do not honour their roots and ancestors, then there is no future for them.

‘Today, I really want to pay tribute to the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha for their role in helping to illuminate the past and helping to share the culture and helping to keep it alive, ensuring that our rich East Indian culture is passed on from generation to generation,’ she said. Persad-Bissessar also paid tribute to former SDMS secretary general Satnarayan Maharaj for his contribution to T& T.

‘We had a great understanding, he would invite me, and he would uninvite me, but he was always a brother and a great soul to all of us. So let us pay tribute as we miss him this year,’ she said.

The Maha Sabha, she said, has played a tremendous role in the lives of many citizens. She said Indian Arrival Day is important because it commemorates the end of a colonial system of indentureship which lasted for over 100 years.

Indian indentureship, she said, was an exploitative and discriminatory system. ‘It was meant to enrich a few at the expense of the labourers who toiled each day in the sugarcane fields and so it is very important that such a discriminatory system, such an unequal system, such an unjust economic system must never again be inflicted on people here or anywhere else in the world,’ she said.

However, she said that the indentureship period helped enrich Trinidad and Tobago and added to the cultural diversity which fills hearts with pride today.

Persad-Bissessar said she recognises all those who came and make T& T the diverse melting pot it is. She said this country has people from every one of the great civilizations of the world including those from Africa, China and Europe.

She paid also tribute to former prime minister Basdeo Panday who she said fought tirelessly to get the Indian Arrival Day holiday. She said on this occasion she thinks of the ‘sacrifice’ made by ancestors and the trials and tribulations they faced.

Persad-Bissessar said there is a saying that parents would ‘suck salt’ and eat a humble meal to ensure their children get an education.

She praised the Maha Sabha for its contribution to the education sector by establishing a number of schools in this nation.

She said she attended the Mohess Road Hindu School as a child and many would have attended SDMS schools in their journey towards a better way of life.

Persad-Bissessar emphasised the importance of education, saying it is a passport out of poverty.