The Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, formerly known as the Santa Rosa Carib Community, continued to promote and support the recovery and preservation of their heritage, including the cultural goods and services and traditional expressions of our First Nation Peoples. This year, they celebrated the 18th year of First Peoples Heritage Week, from 8th – 15th October, 2018.
The Theme for this year was “Strengthening National and Regional Indigenous Identity”. Events within the week included a Children’s Rally held at the Eastern Regional Sports Complex, Tacarigua, and a ceremonial walk around the Red House, followed by an Exhibition of Art and Craft at the Brian Lara Promenade. It was a good opportunity to show case their indigenous heritage, since a significant component of the Heritage Week of celebration is the invitation to First Peoples delegates from Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Canada and the USA, to participate in our various activities.
The main event within this week was the observance of the Day of Recognition of the First Peoples Heritage. The day began with the traditional smoke Ceremony at the Statue of Hyarima in honour of the courageous Chief of the Nepuyo Nation, followed by a Ceremonial Walk through the streets in Arima. Representatives of various First Peoples of Trinidad and Tobago who trace their ancestry to pre-Columbian times were in attendance.
Here we take a look at the The Water Ritual which was conducted last Monday in Lopinot, the visit to the Black Caribs in Santa Cruz last Thursday and the Smoke Ceremony which was held at the Hyarima statue in Arima yesterday.
The Smoke Ceremony
The Smoke Ceremony is designed as a series of offerings and invocations with the intent of praising the earth and protecting its spiritual and physical integrity, remembering the ancestors, blessing the families of the Caribs, and asking for the blessing and guidance of the “Great Spirit,” or “God.”
Incense is burned, corn is offered to the fire and a feather is used to fan smoke to the male-only participants. Tobacco is burned and a cigar is smoked by the shaman who then puffs smoke toward the foreheads of the participants. The shaman will also hold the heads of those he has participating and press his forehead into theirs and close his eyes. Cassava bread and water in a calabash are spatial and symbolic features as well. The ceremony embraces the elements of earth, air, fire and water.
Photos by Edison Boodoosingh