Siparia during Holy Week, before the pandemic, would have been bustling as people converged on the streets for several events, including the much-anticipated inter-religious celebration of La Divina Pastora.
But for the second consecutive year, because of the pandemic, there will be no homage to La Divina Pastora (the Devine Shepherdess), the patron saint of Siparia.
Catholics and Hindus devotees celebrate this unique and annual festival with one belief in common – she grants favours and miracles.
For Catholics, the statue is a manifestation of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.
A book (The Encounter of 1498, Trinidad and Venezuela) by the late RC priest Fr John Thomas Harricharan says around 1715 the statue was brought to the mainland of South American by Spanish Capuchins.
They later established a mission titled La Divina Pastora. It is not certain when the statue came to Trinidad, the book says. The priest quoted from an 1893 report which said the statue was brought here around 1830 by Spanish Capuchin monks fleeing persecution on the mainland.
But Hindus dubbed the statue Siparee Mai, associating her with a murti of the Hindu goddess Mother Kali.
Traditionally, from Holy Thursday, people would begin to flock to the church to offer money, flowers, candles, oils, jewels and other items to the dark-coloured and beautifully decorated statue. Worshippers pray and ask her to grant them innumerable favours.
People from all over the country and the world converged to be a part of the event and get a first-hand view of this miracle-working statue.
Needy people would line the streets, some remaining overnight into Good Friday, as worshippers give charity in the form of food, money and clothing.
Sickly people experiencing problems lay their burden before the statue. Many worshippers afterwards claim to have received blessings.
Scores of barbers would give Hindu infants their first haircuts.
On the third Sunday after Easter Monday, Catholics celebrate the feast day of La Divina Pastora, with a Mass followed by a massive street procession following the statue.
The parish priest is Fr Alan Hall. This year, Mass on Holy Thursday is scheduled for 7 pm. The Stations of the Cross on Good Friday begin at 5.30 pm.