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Catholics, Hindus pay homage

By RICHARDSON DHALAI Saturday, April 19 2014

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GOOD FRIDAY HAIRCUT: Mahin Deo, three, looks a bit nervous as he sits in a chair to get a hair cut which is a tradition for children at the annual Sip...
GOOD FRIDAY HAIRCUT: Mahin Deo, three, looks a bit nervous as he sits in a chair to get a hair cut which is a tradition for children at the annual Sip...

DESPITE overcast conditions, which was interspersed with periods of heavy rainfall, hundreds of Catholic and Hindu faithful converged at the La Divina Pastora RC Church in Siparia yesterday for the annual tradition of prayers and offerings at the feet of the statute of La Divina Pastora - the Divine Shepherdess - the patron saint of Siparia.

The Good Friday tradition also witnessed the first trimming of the hair of young children as well as the giving of alms to scores of destitute persons who also flock to the rural southern community.

According to tradition, on Holy Thursday, the statue of the La Divina is removed from the sacred shrine of the church and placed inside the conference room to accommodate the Hindu devotees who journey to the church to pay homage to the saint While the La Divina Pastora RC Church is itself transformed into a hive of activity from as early as 6 am on Good Friday as both Catholics and Hindus converge on the rural town to offer prayers and gifts to the saint, known to Hindus as Soparee Mai (Mother of Siparia).

When Newsday visited the town yesterday, crash barricades had been placed along the town’s main thoroughfare, High Street, with only pedestrian traffic allowed in the town centre while dozens of vendors had set up shop along the roadway leading to the Church offering a wide range of items for sale including fruits and vegetables, plants, clothing and hand bags, haberdashery, books, religious tokens, jewelry and pottery.

At one of the side entrances leading to the Church, little Mahind Deo, three, was standing patiently on a plastic chair as he was being given his first haircut by barber Sookoo Bridgemohan, who has been trimming hair at that spot for over 38 years.

Deo’s beaming father, Mahindra Deo, said the family, from Abdool Village in Penal, had heard about the tradition of the first cutting of hair from relatives and friends and had come to carry on the tradition.

“He was real excited about getting the trim so that is why he staying real quiet,” the elder Deo said, before adding that they would gather the cut hair and offer it at the beach, together with flowers as a means of ensuring blessings on their son.

His comments were echoed by another father, Avienash Ramdass, who said the cut hair of his 21-month son, Liam Ramdass, would also be gathered and offered to Soparee Mai.

The Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of the La Divina Pastora on the second Sunday after Easter with a street procession in Siparia.

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