Trinidad Independent Senator compares Divali Nagar with Carnival spending
On Wednesday (20/10/21), irate and upset Hindus across Trinidad and Tobago reached out to me to correct a wrong spoken under the guise of parliamentary privilege by Independent Senator Mrs. Hazel Thompson-Ahye reported in the Trinidad Guardian (19/10/21).
It was alleged that the learnt Senator had intimated that Hindus would willing spend money they didn’t have at Diwali Nagar, but would complain about paying Property tax. This was indeed a serious charge by an Independent Senator that could not go unchecked!
So I downloaded and listened to the Senator’s 33-minute long contribution in the Upper House no less than 3 times. While her reference to Diwali Nagar lasted a few seconds at best, it was a painful few seconds.
In her contribution to the debate, the Senator said the same people who played mas in Carnival, and went to all-inclusive fetes, and those who would shop beyond their means at Diwali Nagar, were irresponsible in their bid to avoid paying Property Tax.
Let me set a few things straight. Diwali is a Hindu Festival of lights and it is a sacred festival lasting 5 days. Diwali Nagar is the premiere host of activities leading up to the 3rd day of Diwali which is a national holiday in Trinidad and Tobago. This a venue which showcases the Arts, Culture and Cuisine of Indo Trinidadians. It also boasts of a bazaar from which a variety of clothing, utensils and other items can be bought. It is an alcohol- and meat-free environment and is frequented by families consisting of the very old to the toddlers. It is a family affair.
It is part of our religious and cultural practice to adorn ourselves with new clothes as well as purchase new wares, even repaint our homes to welcome Mother Lakshmi on Diwali Day. Diwali Nagar has made shopping so much easier for the working Hindu, so much so that we all look forward to it.
I want to point out, Madame Senator, that while I admired your confidence and your command of the English Language, I feel you should take the time to find out why many see the property tax as burdensome and why there is a general distrust of Government Valuators! It is admirable that you took the time to call Barbados and Jamaica to find how they felt about Property Taxes. However, did you take the time to call someone over the Caroni bridge?
Lastly, Madam Senator. Please refrain from lumping Carnival spending and Diwali spending in the same basket! I have noticed you didn’t include Christmas spending in your contribution which is much more national than Diwali.
If you were aiming to show that somehow it is the Hindu that is against this unfair property tax, then let me remind you that our homes are generational homes built over years of sweat and toil by succeeding generations. We paid taxes on every single nail we put into it. We were never the equal recipient of State-subsidized housing or Public Sector jobs, or education till Basdeo Panday’s free secondary education took effect. We never even had a Hindu Minister in this country’s cabinet till 1985. So yes, we are very suspect of the Property Tax as well as Valuators coming into the privacy of our homes!
This a tax that punishes those who have saved, sacrificed and bought their house and land. The Property Tax may see us lose or have to sell what our parents and their parents worked for, while others enjoy what we paid taxes on!
Pundit Satyanand Maharaj, Spiritual Head, Satya Anand Ashram, Aranguez, Trinidad and Tobago. WhatsApp +1 868 727 5712
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