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Catholics and Hindu to share church on Good Friday in Trinidad and Tobago

Catholics, Hindus to share church in Trinidad and Tobago on Good Friday

Trinidad and Tobago, March 21 (UITV)- On Good Friday, Roman Catholics will again share their church with thousands of Hindus who will pay homage to the dark-skinned wooden statue of Virgin Mary, who Hindus worship as Mother Kali.

The Hindu practice began as early as 1871, when the Catholic Church has been partly transformed into a Hindu temple – but only on Good Friday. In this way, the Catholic Church plays a dual role. The same church serves two separate congregations in different ways, each reflecting ethnic temperamental differences.

Anthropologist Dr Kumar Mahabir recently presented a research paper on this phenomenon that has been taking place every Good Friday for over 140 years in the Roman Catholic Church in Siparia in Trinidad and Tobago.

Mahabir’s paper entitled “Virgin Mary as Mother Kali: The intersections between the Hindu Mother Kali and the Black Madonnas in Catholic Churches in Trinidad and Beyond,” was presented at an international conference themed “Turning Tides: Caribbean Intersections in the Americas and Beyond.”

The tradition continues today with Hindus bringing oil, pouring most of the bottles into a drum while retaining some for themselves. Another Hindu ritual which is performed on the church ground on Good Friday is the first cutting of the hair of the child near the entrance of the church compound.

In this way, the catholicity of the church accommodates non-Christians, for whom the annex and courtyard are reserved. The Catholic Church provides a cultural and physical space in which Hindus and Christians collectively satisfy their individual religious needs in the multi-cultural society.