VETERAN mas man Lionel Jagessar has broken a 19-year drought to win the coveted San Fernando Band of the Year title in the large band category.
Jagessar’s traditional Indian mas portrayal of Eminence, edged out reigning champions Ivan Kalicharan into second place. Kalicharan’s 2018 offering was Elixir of Life. In third position was Wayne Hanooman’s Fireworks Promotion which presented Tabanca The Story of Layla & Majneen.
It is the third time in the Gransaul Street, San Fernando band’s 40-year history, it has copped the title. Jagessar’s wife, Rose Marie Kuru-Jagessar was also voted Female Masquerader of the Year with her portrayal of Yakima — Mother Earth. South King of Carnival, Marlon Rampersad from Ivan Kalicharan’s band was named Male Masquerader of the year with his portrayal of D Midas Touch
Convenor of the San Fernando Carnival Committee, Naigum Joseph announced the results yesterday morning at a news conference at city hall.
The Jagessars also tasted success the day before, as they created the entire Indian section in the victorious Port of Spain band, Life’s Checkered Board portrayed by Ronnie and Caro.
On a high from this victory, Kuru-Jagessar said she woke up yesterday morning, feeling very happy and decided to attend the news conference where the official results were announced. She said she normally stays away from this event, but her son, Lionel Jagessar Jr, who usually represents them, was reluctant to attend because he did not want to be disappointed again.
Reacting to the win after the announcement, Kuru Jagessar said, “I wasn’t surprised.
Nothing surprises me in Carnival. We last won the Band of the Year title in 1999. Out of 40 years in the business, this is the third time we have won, but we always placed one, two or three.” Her son, who is quietly succeeding his father, said the results left him speechless for the first time in his life.
“I usually have a lot to say, but they caught me off-guard. I was shocked. I was not expecting it.” He said based on the results over the years, he normally came and left after the results, very sad. He was not sure what gave his family band the edge this year but said he was very happy with the results.
He vowed not to get caught up in the euphoria of winning. “Our priority is to stay in the position, to push ourselves to improve so that our masqueraders have better quality costumes and are happy with their experience.
This victory is a bonus.”
Lionel Jnr foresees that this victory could bring about a better appreciation for the traditional mas.
To being named Masquerader of the year for the 13th time, Kuru-Jagessar said, “I am not boasting, but I was 66-years-old in January and I still have that in me. I could still challenge some young people.” Kuru-Jagessar also holds the record for being the only masquerader in the history of Carnival in TT to capture the National Carnival Queen title with a fancy Indian costume. That was in 2010. Kuru-Jagessar also used the opportunity to announce her retirement as a Carnival Queen.
“I retired a couple years ago, but my daughter-in-law’s (who succeeded her) grand-mother died and I had to come back on. But I am retiring this year and wish the new one all the best. I also want to thank all of TT and especially San Fernando for the love and support shown to me over the years.”
She also thanked the police, saying because of their presence and hard work, she felt comfortable playing mas in the city.
She also thanked Mayor Junia Regrello and the Carnival Committee for the several decisions taken due to the economic decline, including the return of judging on Harris Promenade, the cancellation of the Pre Dimanche Gras show at Skinner Park and judging of a South King and Queen of Carnival in Port of Spain.