Thursday 27th July 2006

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Holidays and festivals

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) and the Islamic Relief Centre Ltd filed a constitutional motion seeking the enforcement of our fundamental human rights and freedoms as guaranteed in the Constitution of T&T. High Court action No CVS 2065/2004 was heard before Justice Peter Jamadar.

Justice Jamadar wrote:

“In my opinion, leaving aside the savings clause argument for the moment, the respondent has shown no accommodation whatsoever to ameliorate the indirect adverse discriminating effects of the award of the Trinity Cross on the applicants as Hindus and Muslims and as corporate citizens representing Hindus and Muslims in T&T.”

Prime Minister Patrick Manning moved to correct the discrimination by appointing an Awards Review Committee to examine a new national award to replace the Trinity Cross in addition to the present official days and festivals. For the benefit of the general public we would like to share the proposals we have submitted to the committee that is chaired by Prof Bridget Brereton.

The executive of the SDMS, after due and extensive deliberations, humbly recommends for your committee’s consideration its thoughts on the national holidays and observances as a subset of national symbols and observances.

Outlined in the schedule (above) is a listing of the present festivals/ holidays and juxtaposed thereto is a listing of SDMS’s proffered choices. The SDMS will submit its views on other subsets of national symbols and observances in due course upon its conclusion of discussions among its membership.

At No 2 we recommend that Carnival Monday and Tuesday be officially recognised as public holidays. It is a great pretence to have them considered working days when nobody works on these days.

At No 7 we recommend that Corpus Christi be maintained as a public holiday but the name be changed to Thanksgiving Day. All sections of the national community will be asked to offer thanks to the Almighty God for all the bounties that we enjoy. Every group will observe its own religious and cultural traditions.

At No 9, Emancipation Day should be changed to African Emancipation Day. It is hypocritical to argue that emancipation does not refer specifically to the emancipation of the African slaves.

We emphasise that at No 6 the name Indian Arrival Day be maintained. In this way the two major groups that form 85 per cent of the population are provided the opportunity to celebrate their presence and arrival in T&T.

At No 11, Republic Day should be changed to Heritage Day. Replacing the queen’s ceremonial governor general with a president is an historic event but not of significant importance to be placed on a calendar of important days and festivals.

This new Heritage Day will provide an opportunity for all the smaller racial groups to celebrate their heritage.

At No 15, Boxing Day (December 26) is totally insignificant in our calendar of events and irrelevant to our history.

Special notes

With the exception of festivals that rely on lunar calculations (Divali, Eid-ul-Fitr) and other fixed-day festivals, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, all other public holidays should fall on the nearest Monday or Friday. Citizens will enjoy a long weekend of three days and the economy will not suffer a disjointed week.


Present Holiday Proposed Holiday

1. New Year’s Day New Year’s Day

2. Carnival Carnival Monday—official

Carnival Tuesday

3. Shouter Baptists Day Shouter Baptists Day

4. Good Friday Good Friday

5. Easter Monday Easter Monday

6. Indian Arrival Day Indian Arrival Day

7. Corpus Christi Thanksgiving Day—change

8. Labour Day Labour Day

9. Emancipation Day African Emanci-

pation Day—add African

10. Independence Day Independence Day

11. Republic Day Heritage Day—all groups

contributions recognised

12. Divali Divali Day

13. Eid-ul-Fitr Eid-ul-Fitr

14. Christmas Day Christmas Day

15. Boxing Day remove

SATNARAYAN MAHARAJ is the Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha











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