The Cayman Islands Indian community came together on Sunday to celebrate the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali.
Abdul Hameed, one of the event’s organisers, said it was a happy, yet sombre occasion as they lost a prominent member of the community last month – Dr. Krishna Mani, Cayman’s first ophthalmologist.
Special tribute was paid to Mani, who was described as a legend, at the celebration.
“He lived an incredible and admirable life and he will be greatly missed. He will be remembered often and not forgotten,” Hameed said, as he paid homage to Mani before the packed Sir Vassel Johnson Hall at the University College of the Cayman Islands. “He leaves us with great memories and has given to us lessons and examples that we will carry with us forever. We are so thankful for his impact.”
Mani’s wife, Bina, attended the Diwali celebration and lit the first deya (lamp) to start the event.
“This year we are happy, at the same time sad because we lost a great man, our Indian icon, Dr Mani …. We are all proud of Dr. Mani; he helped the Indian community and the Cayman community,” Hameed told the Cayman Compass.
The university hall was filled with the rhythmic sounds of Hindu bhajans (hymns) and popular songs from Indian movies.
Noting the celebration is in its 21st year in the Cayman Islands, Hameed said he was pleased to see how much it has grown.
“We started with 20 people in 1998 on Public Beach and now we are at 650 people …. This is all about community togetherness and helping each other and bringing joy to the whole community without losing our tradition, and keeping our tradition alive to carry on to the next generation,” he said.
Those in attendance were treated to musical and dance performances from local students.
Local artist Shilpa Tagalpallewar Gampawar, who was one of the event’s co-organisers, said she was pleased with the turnout.
The annual event not only serves as an opportunity to come together as an Indian community, but it helps to unify, as not only Indians attend, she explained.
“We celebrate this festival of light; that way, we can spread our spirituality, our culture and our tradition with the Caymanian community and the Indians in Cayman,” she said.