Divali Nagar, the annual celebration that honours the cultural heritage of TT’s East Indian community, serves as a dynamic platform for businesses to showcase their products and services.
In an interview with the first vice president of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC), Surujdeo Mangaroo, we uncover the intriguing fusion of culture and commerce within Divali Nagar.
The Nagar boasts a bustling marketplace with a wide range of booths for businesses to rent.
As Mangaroo explained, “We (NCIC) offer a wide range of booths for businesses to rent, and this year, we have a total of 153 booths that have already been booked. These booths serve as the canvas for businesses to exhibit and promote their offerings to a diverse audience.”
Questioned on the evolution of business at Divali Nagar, Mangaroo said, “Over the years, the business component of Divali Nagar has seen remarkable growth. We have witnessed an increase in the number of participating businesses, which is very encouraging. What’s even more exciting is the diversity of offerings from these businesses, covering a spectrum of industries and products.” This evolution, he added, allows businesses to tap into a broader market and engage with a wider array of potential customers.
Asked to shed light on the types of investments and sponsorships that Divali Nagar has attracted from corporate entities and how they contribute to the event's success, Mangaroo, who has been involved in the Divali Nagar for 25 years, noted, “Divali Nagar has been fortunate to attract various investments and sponsorships from corporate entities that recognise the significance of this event. These partnerships are vital to the success of Divali Nagar, as they not only provide financial support but also strengthen the event’s overall appeal. Corporate sponsorships contribute to the enhancement of the event's quality, allowing us to provide a memorable experience for our patrons.”
He disclosed that this year, the NCIC is very encouraged to have the presence of First Citizens Bank, Caribbean Airlines, The National Lotteries Control Board, Xtra Foods, National Flour Mills, Nestle and bmobile as corporate sponsors.
When asked how Divali Nagar has navigated the post-pandemic challenges, Mangaroo said, “This was indeed a test of resilience. We implemented strategic measures to ensure the continued success of Divali Nagar, particularly in the business aspect. This included adapting to health and safety protocols to create a secure environment for both our patrons and exhibitors. Additionally, we embraced technology to expand our reach, with live feeds and digital platforms, ensuring that the spirit of Divali Nagar remained vibrant even in challenging times.”
The big question, however, is how do businesses, whether small or large, benefit from being a part of Divali Nagar, and what unique advantages does this platform offer to them?
As Mangaroo pointed out, “Businesses, regardless of their size, benefit immensely from participating in Divali Nagar. The unique advantages of this platform include direct access to a diverse and large audience, the opportunity to showcase their products and services, and the ability to network with other businesses. Moreover, businesses can leverage the rich cultural atmosphere of Divali Nagar to create lasting impressions and build customer loyalty.”
He said the event provides an opportunity to increase sales, generate brand awareness, and connect with potential clients. These economic advantages are substantial and contribute to the overall growth of participating businesses.
He further related that numerous businesses and entrepreneurs have greatly benefited from their association with Divali Nagar. Local artisans have found a platform to showcase handmade crafts and experienced significant sales growth. Food vendors have enjoyed increased visibility and expanded their customer base, while tech startups have gained recognition and funding opportunities.
Mangaroo added, “This year's theme, 'Dharti Mata' (Mother Earth), aligns perfectly with the values of environmental consciousness and cultural heritage. After Divali Nagar, we are contemplating to collaborate with the business community to promote sustainable practices. We aim to create initiatives that extend the message beyond the event and foster a sense of environmental responsibility within the business community.”
Mangaroo expressed that the future of Divali Nagar is bright and promising, with the event continuing to grow and evolve. He noted that it will provide even more opportunities for businesses, patrons, and the community at large.
“We aim to enhance the business aspect further, fostering innovation and collaboration while preserving the rich cultural heritage that Divali Nagar represents” he said.
Mangaroo expressed gratitude to the business community for their support and partnership in making Divali Nagar a success.
"We encourage you to continue to leverage this platform for growth, connect with your audience, and explore opportunities for sustainability and environmental consciousness. Together, we can contribute to a brighter future for both businesses and our beloved Divali Nagar. This year’s theme highlights the need for environmental consciousness in these challenging times. We must unite to promote sustainability and protect our planet," he said.
About NCIC and this year’s Divali Nagar
Located on Narsaloo Ramaya Marg in Endeavour, Chaguanas, NCIC is the primary organisation dedicated to nurturing and promoting East Indian and Indo-Trinidadian culture in TT.
In the 1960s, Indo-Trinidadians, passionate about preserving their heritage, expressed it through various art forms like music and dance. One popular orchestra, Naya Zamana, faced a medical crisis involving its founder Nazeer Mohammed, leading cultural activist Bisram Gopie to step in. His fundraising initiative's success kindled the birth of an organisation supporting East Indian artists. In 1964, the National Council for Indian Music and Drama (NCIMD) was established, with Bisram Gopie as its inaugural President.
Over the years, the organisation expanded, supporting artists and fostering their growth. In 1972, it was renamed the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) to encompass all facets of Indian cultural expression. The NCIC actively collaborated with the High Commission of India, facilitating cultural exchanges, workshops, and education in India for local talents.
Divali Nagar, now a globally recognised flagship event, emerged in 1986 under the astute leadership of Hansley Hanoomansingh. The organisation’s growth prompted the search for a permanent home, which the TT government graciously granted in 1986. The NCIC site, located on Narsaloo Ramaya Marg, includes an auditorium named after the first president Bisram Gopie, a main stage, and the Heritage Centre.
The distinguished chief guest for this year is Karen Gopee, the first Indo-Caribbean Justice of the Supreme Court of New York. Raised in a working-class family in Tunapuna, Trinidad, her steadfast pursuit of education led to her appointment as a Judge by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015, extending her jurisdiction to the Supreme Court in Queens County. Guided by mentors like Judge Alex Calabrese, Karen Gopee continues to aspire to great heights.
This year's Divali Nagar will run till November 11.