As we emerge from the holy week of Easter, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago return to their places of work, their schools, their everyday lives wishing for just one more day added to an already lengthy, long weekend.
Many know our twin-island republic as a “Fete Nation”. We’re known internationally as the party capital of the Caribbean, with endless parties revolving around Carnival, throughout the year. And don’t get me wrong, Carnival is a integral part of our heritage, our way of life, our culture – but it’s not the only thing we’re known for.
Trinidad and Tobago, due to various historical processes has undergone shifts and evolution in culture over hundreds of years of conquest and colonization. Intertwined with the passing of rule over many decades and mass immigration processes such as slavery and indentureship, our Twin islands has grown into what can only be described as a religious melting-pot, an oasis of cultural diversity, a hub of religious tolerance and acceptance.
The largest religious groups are the Protestant Christians (including Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodist, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Baptist), Roman Catholic Christians, Hindus, and Muslims.
Two Afro-Caribbean syncretic faiths, the Shouter or Spiritual Baptists and the Orisha faith (formerly called Shangos) are among the fastest growing religious groups.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as “Mormons”) has also expanded its presence in the country since late-1970s.
According to the 2011 Census, 33.4% of the population was Protestant (including 12.0% Pentecostal, 5.7% Anglican, 4.1% Seventh-day Adventist, 3.0% Presbyterian or Congregational, 1.2% Baptist, and 0.1% Methodist), 21.5% was Roman Catholic, 18.1% was Hindu, and 5% was Muslim.
A small number of individuals subscribed to traditional Caribbean religions with African roots, such as the Spiritual Baptists (sometimes called Shouter Baptists) (5.7%); and the Orisha (0.1%). The smaller groups were Jehovah’s Witnesses (1.5%) and unaffiliated (2.2%). There is also a small Buddhist community on the island.
So we’re encouraging our guests, and any tourists visiting Trinidad and Tobago to take the road less travelling. Step away from the sun, sea and sand for a moment and take a tour of our islands most prominent religious sites. You need to be affiliated with any of these religions to appreciate the rich cultural and religious diversity that exists on our islands.
1. The Temple in the Sea
This unique site is located in Waterloo, Trinidad. A symbol of resistance and built out of the desire to retain his religious culture, Siewdass Sadhu is the visionary behind this noble creation. After being jailed for building a similar temple on government owned sugarcane lands, this Indian indentured labourer decided that if he could not build his temple on land, then he would build it in the sea. It is said that Sadhu laid each brick himself, carrying the the materials he needed to build his temple on his bicycle. Laying each stone, he forged a path forward in spite of both public and government skepticism.
The temple, simple and stoic, sits on the shores at Waterloo, a defiant symbol of innovation, hope and serenity. It stands strong, as evidence of what human being can achieve despite their faith being challenged.
2. The Holy Trinity Cathedral
For those yearning for a trip back in time, to our island’s days under British colonial rule, this is a must-see. There are many magnificent cathedrals in our capital, Port of Spain, however of them, these are definitely in our top three! Built to reflect the Gothic style architecture of the Victorian Era, this Anglican church was built in 1809, by patronage of the British Parliament.
The magnificent hammer-beam roof is made of local wood and characterized by huge trusses. The altar is built entirely of selected local mahogany and backed by alabaster and marble mounted on a base of Portland stone. The stained glass windows showcase magnificent representations of the saints. The Cathedral is filled with interesting historical items such as the marble statue dedicated to former Governor and founder of the Church, Sir Ralph Woodford. Along the walls inside the Cathedral are Tablets placed “in the memory of” former members of the British elite of colonial days.
Source: Buzz TT
3. Moravian Churches, Tobago.
Let’s head over to Tobago! Spring Garden and Black Rock are two important villages for those seeking a bit of history about colonial Tobago. Early Moravian missionaries constructed two churches, in 1852 and 1859 respectively. These humble buildings are almost identical yet in their simplicity, these chapels are remarkable for their design. Each building incorporates wood-shingle walls and hipped roofs, resting on a foundation of coral limestone. These Moravian churches were bastions of colonial Tobago and their primary function was in ministering to plantation slaves and educating their children during pre-Emancipation times. Adding to their historical significance is the fact that these churches were two of the few structures that survived devastating Hurricane Flora that affected our twin-islands in 1963.
4. 85ft Lord Hanuman Statue
This is one for the record books! Many do not know, but Trinidad is home to the largest Hanuman murti outside of India. Built according to the Dravidian style of architecture of South India this 85-foot tall statue of the Hindu god, Lord Hanuman located in the village of Carapichaima, Trinidad.
A “murti” in Hindu culture is any embodiment of the divine. It refers to any embodiment, manifestation, incarnation or personification of a spiritual entity or deity. Worshiped by many who wish to gain courage and strength in their lives, Lord Hanuman is probably one of the most celebrated and revered figures in the Hindu Mythology.
The towering murti took years to design and construct and the result is truly a sight to behold – but don’t take our word for it. Check out this video!
5. Mohammed Ali Jinnah Memorial Mosque
Source: The Trinidad Guardian
Finally, we couldn’t end without shining the spotlight on First Capital Apartment’s very own home – The Town of St. Joseph. Located just minutes away from our wonderful apartments is a majestic remnant of the island’s Muslim followers.
One of Trinidad’s finest mosques, which serves as headquarters of the Trinidad Muslim League. It is also regarded as one of the 50 most beautiful buildings in the world. It’s tall towers can be seen from the nearby main road. During the holy season of Ramadhan, many Muslim brothers and sisters gather to break their fasting daily, and on any given day residents and visitors to the area can hear the iconic call to worship as it echoes through the town.
So there you have it! These are just some of the many religious sites found in and around Trinidad and Tobago. If you find the time to venture away from the ordinary, take a moment to see the extra-ordinary. Dive into our rich culture, and experience a religious tour around the islands.
There’s lots to see but be on your best behavior! Our national is built on love, respect and unity in spite of diversity. So regardless of your religious affiliation, when visiting the different religious sites around Trinidad and Tobago, we ask that all who yearn for knowledge and understanding, also be gracious and respectful to both the sites and the people who you encounter on your journey.
For reservation inquiries and help planning your religious tour around Trinidad and Tobago, please send us an email. Check out the homepage for a direct message portal!