SWAHA spiritual head Parmacharya Pundit Hardeo Persad said the row over the Maha Sabha’s ban on OJT Nafiesa Nakhid should not have happened, addressing Indian Arrival Day celebrations at the SWAHA temple known as the Sri Raam Dhaam at St Lucien Road, Diego Martin on Wednesday.
“Are we telling the youth we cannot mediate and come to a consensus on such a simple issue? Mediation, dialogue. Why blow things out of proportion, make it look so terrible, when it’s just a storm in a tea-cup?” He said the issue was handled badly, without calling names.
“In this day and age after 173 years we should be more tolerant and respectful.” Those present applauded.
“It shouldn’t even happen. It is never right to discriminate full-stop.
“It is even worse to discriminate based upon religion, dress, race, etcetera, if indeed this was the case.”
However Persad also asked whether anyone knew for sure the matter was about religious discrimination, as he said spin-doctors can twist the truth.
Saying he was not present when the alleged incident occurred, Persad said a story has many sides and you can’t hear just one side and jump to a conclusion.
He said any comment offered by SWAHA must always be measured and balanced, without blaming anyone or passing judgement but rather asking questions.
Persad said SWAHA is seen as the “voice of reason in a very confused, chaotic and unreasonable world” and viewed as “stable, sane and sober.”
Persad said “Indian Arrival” refers to not just Hindus but also Muslims who also helped develop TT.
Mulling the ongoing debate over whether people must pay for dog-kennels and duck-ponds as part of their property tax, he wondered whether puja/prayer rooms traditionally outside of Hindu homes would also be considered in calculations of property tax.
“If I build my puja place in my yard are you going to tax me on that? Is there a tax to pray to God? Who among all of us will have temples and puja rooms in your yard? Is it not Hindus? Is there a target group? I don’t know; I am asking questions.” He called for clarification, otherwise people will think anything.
“I have become a bit jittery. I have two temples in my yard and I don’t intend to rent out any, so I don’t know how they are going to get the rental value of these things. I don’t know.”
Otherwise Persad urged listeners to undertake self-reflection to curb one’s ego, saying only improved individuals could create a better society.
“The Universe is a reflection of ourselves.” Saying this is an era of knowledge he said youngsters have no excuse for ignorance and so must ask questions, do research and formulate their own ideas. On the day’s theme of “Arrival”, he asked whether the population, some 173 years after their physical arrival in TT, has now ever actually ever “arrived” spiritually.
He said social, educational and material advancement and even ample religious practices did not necessarily translate to improved spirituality among the population.