THE SANATAN Dharma Maha Sabha is concerned about Venezuelan migrants entering the country with Hindu marriage licences issued by a pundit in central Trinidad.
Pundit Lutchmidath Persad Maharaj, in a telephone interview yesterday, said there was an investigation of Venezuelans coming in from Cedros, presenting Hindu marriage licences.
These licences, he added, were being issued by a pundit from central Trinidad.
Maharaj, who is also the first vice-president of the Inter-Religious Organisation, said the Immigration Division has been contacted.
According to Maharaj, almost 100 people have produced marriage licences with that pundit’s registration.
He said this took place over an extended period of time and not during the recently concluded two-week registration period.
“There was an investigation going on because it meant the licence had to be shipped out of the country for them to be presenting it when they came in at the port in Cedros.” “It is a legitimate concern for the Maha Sabha,” he told Newsday.
He said marriage licences are only issued after a particular set of religious rituals were performed, such as pre martial counselling and the balancing of astrologies or the planetary influences.
“We would hope that the pundits’ practice the correct thing. Once you hold a Hindu marriage licence, the process of registering the marriage could only take place after the ritual is completed.”
“For every single marriage performed, and registered, both the husband and wife are supposed to be Sanatanist Hindu.
“It means for that marriage to be able to be recognised, you must have some type of ritual taking place whereby both the husband and wife engaged in a process of worship.”
He said a Hindu wedding was very “dynamic’ as it also required an input by members of the extended family and lasts for a period of three days.
“This is where the Maha Sabha has some serious concerns about those Venezuelans coming into the country with Hindu marriage certificates.”
However, he was unable to say if the Venezuelans entering TT with Hindu marriage licences were male or female.
Maharaj said the Maha Sabha has provided humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans in TT by providing meals to those who spent hours and days waiting to be registered over the last two weeks.
The registration process officially came to an end on Friday, and up to Saturday morning there were some still being processed.
“We believe in the humanitarian aspect and, in particular, the amount of children who have been suffering out there especially waiting in line for days,” he said, adding that some of the Maha Sabha’s temples had outreach programmes to assist Venezuelans. He said citizens had to understand that Venezuelans would not just leave their homes and families to come to TT knowing the challenges we face, but they had no choice. He said the situation should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities, since, he said, drugs and guns can easily enter TT the same way there has been an influx of foreigners landing on our shores.
“We need more stringent laws and regulations, because if a country cannot regulate people coming in such large numbers, could you just imagine things like guns, drugs, ammunition?”
“I think it is awake up call for those in charge, and not just the Government, but those who are to secure and protect our borders.”