Happenings (September/October 2011)

A round-up of current and coming events on the Caribbean calendar

  • DeJam Festival. Photograph courtesy Dwayne Lube
  • A still from The Little Boy and the Ball (Damian Marcano, Trinidad & Tobago/USA, 2011). Photograph courtesy T& T Film Festival
  • A T&T heroine takes the stage. Photograph by Jason Hagley
  • Rum and beer in Barbados. Photograph courtesy Rum and Beer Festival
  • Morsels of chocolate in Mo Bay. Photograph courtesy Rum and Beer Festival
  • Morsels of chocolate in Mo Bay. Photograph courtesy Rum and Beer Festival
  • Photograph by Ariann Thompson

Divali: a holy time for Hindus

The Hindu community throughout the world celebrates Divali – the triumph of good over evil, or that of light over darkness, as thousands of deyas (small earthenware vessels filled with oil) will be lit. Divali is a lunar festival, so its observance varies from year to year, and this year it will be celebrated on October 26.

This Festival of Lights, also known as Deepavali, is a five-day religious event that is held in honour of the goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth.

In the Caribbean, it is a public holiday in Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. In T&T, Hindus clean and paint their homes from top to bottom, and outfit their homes with new curtains and other household items, as well as purchasing clothes to be worn on this auspicious occasion in the Hindu calendar. Hindus fast three weeks (or more) before Divali – no meat (fish, cheese or eggs), no alcohol, no sexual relations – as well as attending prayers at the mandir (temple) in preparation. Many Hindus also have Lakshmi pujas (prayers) at home in honour of the goddess. On Divali day, Hindus cook large quantities of food as friends and relatives are expected to visit, but really anyone is welcome at this time. All visitors can expect to be given Indian delicacies, such as barfi, gulab jamun, ladoo, and kurma.

Deyas are usually lit throughout the night, as celebrants tend the fires by refilling the deyas with coconut oil and replacing wicks. For Hindus, Divali represents a new beginning, whether spiritual or physical.


Chamber music classics in Aruba

You’ll hear much more than tinkling ivories at the Aruba Piano Festival from September 24 – October 1.

The festival was started in 2006, by pianist Armand Simon, the festival’s artistic director, when he invited Venezuelan violinist Simon Gollo to Aruba. What began as a three-day event has since grown to “become an international chamber music festival, with great performers from all over the world,” says Gollo. Music aficionados can listen to chamber-music recitals, master classes, and a piano competition.

Gollo says apart from reaching a large audience, the festival gives young musicians the chance to “receive lessons from great international performers, see and hear them in concert, and meet fellow music students in a competitive and stimulating environment”.

He will be performing alongside pianist Alan Weiss (USA), Jura Margulis (Russia), Tian Lu (China), and Korean-born cellist Timothy Park, among others.

For more information visit www.arubapianofestival.com



DJs at Antigua’s DeJam

This year marks the eighth annual DeJam Festival, which will be held on September 23 – 30 in Antigua. The festival’s website calls it “the ultimate party experience”, and it celebrates top international DJs.

DeJam was started by Anthony Brightly, former keyboard player in the British reggae band Black Slate. Brightly was involved in the music industry from a young age, as his father, George ran Jamaica’s Sir George sound system, so it is no surprise that he has created a festival that pays tribute to the contribution DJs have made to music.  In the past, the festival has had a varied list of parties and activities, such as the Catamaran Rum Punch Cruise, Cops and Robbers Affair, an all-night mansion pool party, and a barbecue beach party, and visitors can expect the same this year. What some may consider the best part of the festival is the Royal Prestigious Gala dinner, where the DeJam Festival DJ Awards will honour international and Caribbean-based DJs. Some expected DJs are Bushkin & Fonti, G-Ents (Dagz & Slick), Supa D, Sir Venom, Gal Flex, DJ Quincy, and Invasion Crew.

For more information visit www.dejamfestival.com



Island Hopper

T&T Film Festival 2011
When: September 21 – October 4
Where: Trinidad & Tobago
What: Film buffs can view a wide range of films from established and up-and-coming filmmakers
For more information: www.ttfilmfestival.com

Aruba Wine Extravaganza
When: September 8 – 10
Where: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
What: Wine connoisseurs will have an opportunity to sample vintages from more than 40 wineries
For more info: contact Clive Faustin at (+297) 523 4676 or e-mail clive.faustin@romartrading.com

12th annual Blue Food Festival
When: October 16
Where: Bloody Bay Recreation Ground, Tobago
What: The root vegetable dasheen is the focus of this festival, with cooking competitions and nature displays thrown in
For more information: contact the Department of Tourism (868) 639 2125

National Warri Festival
When: October
Where: St John’s Multi-Purpose Cultural Centre, Antigua
What: Antigua’s national board game, Warri, was brought across the seas by African slaves and is celebrated in a month-long competition
For more information: contact Cyril “September” Christian at (268) 461 6400 or Fitzroy Phillip at (268) 461 1615

Jounen Kwéyòl Entenasyonnal
When: October 23
Where: St Lucia
What: International Creole Day: the culmination of a month of festivities when St Lucians celebrate Creole music, folklore and food
For more information: contact the St Lucia Folk Research Centre at (758) 452 2279 or e-mail frc@candw.lc

Orealla Regatta
When:  September
Where: Orealla, Guyana
What: A motorboat-racing event on the Corentyne River
For more info: contact Corentyne Tours at (+592) 339 2741



A T&T heroine takes the stage

Gene Miles, a Trinidad & Tobago patriot, took on the powerful state administration in an anti-corruption campaign against the gas station racket in the 1960s, and paid the ultimate price.

The one-woman play Miss Miles, featuring award-winning actress Cecilia Salazar, focuses on the clash between Miles’s conscience, religious faith, belief in truth, and the rigid notions of the status quo. The story traces the 42 years of this attractive, colourful, vivacious, intelligent and entertaining person, Gene Miles – from growing up in pre-independence, colonial, Roman Catholic Trinidad to the Black Power days of the early 1970s, when a struggle to develop a new and just society gave rise to social transformation.

In the play, written and directed by Tony Hall and produced by Trevor Jadunath and Lordstreet Theatre Company, the audience summons Miles back from the world beyond, to allow her to tell her story.
Performances run from October 20 – 23 and October 27 – 30 at the Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook, Port of Spain.

For more information call (868) 681 7475 or visit www.lordstreet.net



Salsuri in Suriname

Salsuri was started in 2005 by Mequillo Pang Atjok, who got the idea while living in Amsterdam, after visiting similar festivals. Salsuri is a dance festival where the best salsa dancers from all over the world – New York, Venezuela, Curaçao, Poland, India, Aruba, Brazil, French Guiana, England, France, and Suriname – get to demonstrate their skill to onlookers.

The festival runs from October 26 – 30, starting with a free pre-festival party, where dancers are introduced to the public. The daylight hours on Saturday and Sunday are filled with workshops conducted by the international dancers, but the nights are devoted to partying. Pang Atjok says, “Visitors can dance salsa, watch world-class shows, have workshops, and enjoy the great food that Suriname has to offer, as well as going to the interior to go to the Amazon.”

For more information visit www.salsuri.com



Rum and beer in Barbados

The second Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival takes place in Barbados on October 28 – 29, at the official residence of the Prime Minister at the Ilaro Court Outdoor Facility.

Festival organiser Cheryl Collymore sees the two-day festival as a beverage trade event “with a massive social component” that promotes the distilled and brewed products of the whole Caribbean by demonstrating the diversity and range available.

One feature is the Caribbean Alcohol Beverage Awards on October 27, when two panels of international expert rum and beer judges will do blind tasting of all submitted rum and beer, with the results announced on the following day.

Another high point will be the presence of Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, as well as editor-in-chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer.

For more information visit www.rumandbeerfestival.com



Jazz on the hill in T&T

The hill that overlooks the city of San Fernando will be the site of the San Fernando Jazz Festival of Trinidad & Tobago on October 8. The festival, which was launched in 2004. was started to promote the city and recognise South Trinidad’s contribution to T&T’s cultural development. The festival has paid homage to local icons, such as André Tanker and Lord Kitchener, as well as showcasing the talents of Bajan saxophonist Arturo Tappin, pannists Ray Holman and Liam Teague, sitarist Mungal Patasar, and saxophonist Gerald Rampersad.

Rudolph Thomas, the festival’s artistic director, says this year’s theme is “New Horizons”, as the festival showcases younger artistes who sharpened their skills through formal training.

The festival will honour San Fernando-born calypsonian Leroy Calliste, better known as Black Stalin. Stalin, known for such hits as “Black Man Feeling to Party” and “Wine Boy”, will have his work interpreted in a jazz format by arranger Carlton “Zander” Alexander.

For more information visit www.sanfernandojazzfestivaltt.com



Morsels of chocolate in Mo Bay

The second Regional Caribbean Fine Cocoa Conference & Chocolate Expo will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica, from September 14 – 16.

If you are a cocoa or chocolate user, food specialist, cocoa farmer, potential investor – or simply passionate about chocolate – then this conference and expo is for you.

The conference will highlight the latest developments in the Caribbean relating to the fine-cocoa industries of Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, Belize, St Lucia, and the Dominican Republic.

At the expo, which features exhibits of exotic cocoa products from across the Caribbean, you can taste, buy, or explore new business opportunities.

For information and to register, contact Euphemia Cazoe at (868) 642 8888 ext 21111, e-mail her at cfcf@utt.edu.tt, or visit www.caribbeanfinecocoaforum.org


All pieces by Mirissa De Four, apart from “A T&T Heroine Takes to the Stage”

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.