The park opposite the Santa Rosa R.C Church, Arima was illuminated with candles on bamboo sticks last Saturday night as the First People community continued their celebrations in preparation for Santa Rosa feast day yesterday.
Chief Ricardo Hernandez said, “On the eve of the feast day, we have the lighting up of the park which has been part of the tradition for many years.” He stated that in previous years it was well attended however over the years there has been a decline for a number of reasons. “This year, we are making a special effort to enhance it so it will attract more persons to the space.”
Immediately following the 6pm mass, the First People community presented a two and a half hour programme which included a dramatic production which was displayed by Iere Theatre Productions and The Santa Rosa First People Community. Hernandez said, “The play Hyarima and The Saints was written by former Arima mayor, the late F.E.M Hosein who was very concerned about the first people in his time.” He added, “Hosein was a champion of the community in many ways.”
He further explained the significance of lighting up the park stating, it represented the wake which takes place before a funeral. “We are celebrating the burial of Santa Rosa, the procession on Sunday morning reminds us of her funeral procession.” The procession yesterday saw the statue of St. Rose de Lima being carried around the streets of Arima, escorted by members of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force and members of the First People community who carried flowers. Parishioners followed while reciting the rosary.
Hyarima and The Saints depicted the story of Hyarima, the great Nepuyo war chief who devoted his life to protecting his people. The play showcased the resistance of the Amerindian people against Spanish colonisers, revolts which led to the death of most of the Amerindian people and how many of these people came to accept Christianity. Hyarima is described as last great warrior chief who on October 14, 1637 attacked settlers in the town of St Joseph in resistance to Spanish rule over Trinidad.
Hernandez stated that the mission of Santa Rosa was established for the First People. “She is the patron for this area, therefore the indigenous people have developed a festival which lasts for the entire month of August, so it is not just an ordinary feast of the church but the early people has been able to add their culture to it,” Hernandez said.