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Hundreds seek blessings from Supari Mai

Seeta Persad Saturday, April 15 2017

HUNDREDS of pilgrims including Catholics and Hindus made the annual trek to the La Divina Pastora RC Church in Siparia yesterday to offer prayers and gifts.

From 6 pm on Holy Thursday, the church opened its doors to accommodate the hundreds of pilgrims who had journeyed from all parts of the country to pay homage to the statue believed to be a manifestation of the Virgin Mary by Catholics and referred to as Supari Mai by Hindus.

Devotions and offerings continued into Good Friday yesterday with long lines of people waiting to reach the statue to offer rice, flowers, money and olive oil.

Munishree Seecharan from Barrackpore brought with her the double red hibiscus flower which is used to worship the Hindu goddess Durga.

“I have been coming here for many years now and I look at the Supari Mai as a Goddess who came to Siparia for the purpose of taking care of the people who worship her,” Seecharan said.

She said she wanted to pray for all the women in her family and all the women in Trinidad who may be suffering.

Another devotee, Maltee Ramdass from Couva says she saw many miracles in her life since worshipping the Goddess.

“It is health related and each year I feel a sense of relief after I offer the olive oil and coins to this deity,” she said.

Husband and wife Kelvin and Marilyn Seunarine said that they do not always have the time to visit the statue on Good Friday but this year they made the time because they have been struggling.

Roman Catholics believe that the La Divina Pastora statue is the manifestation of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

Hindus, meanwhile, believe that she is the embodiment of the goddess Kali or Mother Durga. A group from Venezuela was also among the hundreds of pilgrims who came to worship La Divina Pastora. Others went seeking blessings for wealth, health and also marital prosperity.

Some women went in hopes to become fertile.

Many of the pilgrims told Newsday the long wait to get their turn at the statute’s feet was well worth it. They said they immediately the blessings of the Goddess.

Outside, the street leading to the church was lined with vendors.

There were also roadside barbers to cut the first hair of Hindu children which is believed to help them become strong and successful.

Many destitute people also lined the courtyard of the church to receive alms from those who made the pilgrimage.

There was also a heavy police presence and many of the side streets were blocked off to accommodate the thousands who visit to pay homage to the Goddess.

The origin of La Divina Pastora dates back to the 18th Century. It is said that a Spanish priest brought the statue to Siparia from Venezuela. He claimed that the statue saved him and he wished to have her importance cemented in TT.

The other version is that early Indentured Hindu settlers said that Supari Mai appeared at dawn as a child on the land on which the church is built and by nightfall she grew into an old woman disappearing as the sun set.

Hindus have been doing worship to this idol for more than 100 years.



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