Desecrating the Soul of Caura

By Stephen Kangal
February 06, 2008

CauraThe soul and spirit that presides over the terrific and tranquil Northern Range Caura shrine served up an unspoilt mecca for relaxation for over sixty years. It catered with its lush vegetation canopy for the recreational and unwinding needs of thousands. That is the unique heritage that is now being desecrated by lawless brigands and shameless bandits causing worshippers to scurry for their lives. These bandits must remember that a Catholic Priest cast a curse on the building of the corruption-riddled Caura Water Dam on the site of a previous church and it never materialised. Those who desecrate the Caura peace will surely pay for their sacrilege and disrespect to the gods that inhabit this sanctuary.

Caura represented the last secure major inland sanctuary providing a natural, therapeutic and safe haven for fathers who took their entire family and friends on pilgrimage to this pristine shrine to pay homage to Mother Nature. Hindus also frequent Caura to perform ‘shaving’ rituals designed to purify and further release the souls of their dear departed ones en route to nirvana. It is as if the crystalline clear waters of Caura washed away the sins of the departed and the onerous cares of the living.

Imagine the shock and trauma that crept upon me last Saturday when upon arriving with a party of friends at my favourite haunt I discovered that Caura of all places was frightfully and completely deserted and abandoned. It resembled a disaster zone. The stray dogs looked lean and hungry. That was the result of Caura aficionados being terrorised and held to ransom by a horde of bandits. They knew that they would not be caught. The police patrols that I read about in the newspapers post-the-bandits-attack and upon which my visit was premised were no where in sight.

The PNM Administration refuses to appreciate the healing and reconciliation- with- nature value of Caura in soothing the nerves of over-stressed and poverty-stricken citizens; they who seek solace and respite under the trees and in the healing stream of the natural peaceful ambience of Caura from the psychological ravages of a siege mentality.

People are barricaded in their homes. Traffic congestion is dehumanising our spirits leading to road rage. The fear factor is stunting our young human capital development. Caura represents an alternative, stress-relieving, therapeutic environment. You can even get a sun tan in the Caura Valley.

Government never saw it fit to provide toilets for the hundreds of wives and daughters who visit Caura daily with their husbands and fathers even if they belong to a natural UNC constituency. They must use the primitive bush. The Forestry Division stopped maintaining the Caura recreation site for years. But uncomplaining devotees still succumbed to the lure and call of the Caura Valley heritage site. It has been etched in our national psyche and forms part of our cultural and recreational legacy and landscape. Our chutney artistes have immortalised Caura in verse with Hunter wanting his rum on the rocks of Caura.

How can a Government that claims to be caring and fair to all be so insensitive and so callous in treating with uncaring indifference the legitimate entitlements and welfare needs of citizens for decent and safe inland recreational opportunities especially at the popular Caura rendezvous? Here the rich mingle with the poor. Government should have intervened immediately to assure the picnickers that they would be safe. That they can return to savour the luxuriant and verdant Caura ambience under police protection.

Or is the Government in league with the “community leaders” to harass the law-abiding, the docile and the non-violent? What is the justification for spending millions at Maracas and miniscule at Caura? Will we anytime now read of a gun- fight for space at the Caura corral?

Caura allows people to go back to nature. We recreate and relive our humble past when we cooked with “chulhas” and fire-wood. Does anyone in the Manning Administration understand how compelling it is to allow Trinbagonians to return to nature to mitigate our ineluctable “progress” along the urbanisation continuum away from the natural state of man? Or are those who frequent Caura to be regarded and treated in the TV ad as ” pot-bellied country bookies” to be ignored and of no consequence to the urban-based ruling oligarchy?

I can arrive at only one conclusion based on my life’s accumulated wisdom in T&T. If it is Caura, cricket, chutney, kidnapping, tassa, sugar, rice (agriculture), phagwa, ram leela or the plight of the rural dispossessed and marginalised the predictable, “politically correct” response of the Manning regime is one of lack of care and concern and blatant, open and cruel don’t -care- a damn for those…

4 thoughts on “Desecrating the Soul of Caura”

  1. I’m just an onlooker here in NYC, but it seems there is trend in T&T of lack in funding to UNC/Opposition constituents and their constituencies. Bad roads, little or no police patrols or automobiles, inadequate waterworks or electricity are all examples of these disadvantages being imposed. It’s an inhumane way to treat people. God do so to those who harm the people. There is a judgement day, and one way or another ALL have to account for their decisions and actions.

  2. I would endorse the obligation of the state to provide whatever is necessary to preserve monuments and other sanctuaries, whether religious or social, that are part of the mosaic of T&T. T&T is not lacking in finances to do what is necessary to preserve our cultural ambiences. I do not consider the lapses racist, because I do not see the absence of attention being diverted to African areas of cultural solemnity.

    The truth of the matter is that our politicians with their Western Orientations and education seem to pay little attention to those attachments that bind us to a spiritual past. They will always get away with it because we never take the time to observe that their neglect of one side does not transfer into an interest on the other side. And for those politicians and pundits who are weighted this way, it never seem to bother us.

  3. Certainly it’s not racist, but partisan. I think of the request for better security in Tabaquite by UNC powerman Maharaj being shot down by the Commissioner of Police to back this statement. There has been a spate of heavy rime in teh recent past there and a legitimate request is made but ignored. Then when Maharaj hires private security that is called at as vigilantism by Colm Imbert.

    Government by the people, for the people – that’s what Democracy is about. All else is failure.

  4. The soul of Caura has been desecrated a long time ago by the conduct of the people who use the river and its environs for picnicking, religious rituals and other purposes. The last time I was there around fifteen years ago, I was dismayed by the mess people left in the place as part of their rituals and cook-outs. When I was there, several groups of Indians were cooking on the riverbanks. They washed their chickens and other food stuff in the river without any concern for the people who were bathing lower down. While some people threw their garbage in the river, others left their garbage on the banks.

    Some religious groups that use the river for rituals have to understand that how they do that, the place becomes an eyesore. There are bamboo poles with flags and rotting flowers among other things everywhere. They have to work out a way to use the place in a way that does not leave an eyesore and does not force everyone to be part of their mess.

    The Caura environment used to be lush green with clean flowing water. When I was there last it looked overused, dried and the water was not clean.

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