Siewdass Sadhu’s determination to construct a temple in the sea defying his colonial masters will forever be etched in the pages of local history. His Shiva Mandir, in Waterloo, should be regarded as a symbol of nationhood since he stood up for his rights in the face of persecution from colonial rulers. This Friday Sadhu’s story will be immortalised at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando Iere Theatre when Productions Ltd stages its 2012 play, Temple in the Sea, Building a temple...Building a Nation this weekend. The play begins tomorrow at 8pm. Victor Edwards, leader of Iere Theatre Productions and director of the play, said it was important to present the play in 2012 as the country celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence.
In an interview during rehearsals at the Naparima Girls’ High School auditorium last Sunday, he said it was necessary to highlight Sadhu’s contribution to building T&T since his strength and courage should be emulated. “We feel that the same kind of attitude that Siewdass had to have, that determination, that perseverance, when people used to mock him going with his two buckets and his bicycle everyday for two and three hours a day to work on his temple is needed,” he said. Edwards, who leads a cast of young and not-so-young performers, said the play held personal significance to him, not just because of his ancestral heritage of coming from an East Indian family. He said his desire to do the play was spurred since 2007 when vandals desecrated Sadhu’s temple by the sea.
“They destroyed all the murtis there. To me that was a painful thing and since that incident I have been trying to do this play because I felt that the people who destroyed those murtis did not understand the significance, not of the murtis, but the significance of the temple in the sea and the history behind it and I wanted to do it,” Edwards said. Edwards said the play should be seen by every school child in T&T so they will appreciate local history and the heroes that shaped the nation. “To me the most significant thing is the recognition of Siewdass as a Trinidadian growing this landscape of ours. “His strength, commitment to stand up against the colonial masters and say ‘you do not want me to do this but I am going to find a way to do it,’ to me that is why I want to present this story,” he said. The cast includes Martin Sahadath as Sadhu, Sharda Maharaj, Geneva Drepaulsingh, Reanna Edwards, David Sammy and Chandraban Ramnarace. Cast members have been rehearsing since May 22 and are fasting as well. Sahadath said he was humbled to be part of the play and portray Siewdass, who should be regarded as a hero.
Siewdass Sadhu (1903-1970)—an indentured labourer, constructed the Temple in the Sea at Waterloo. He had initially constructed a temple near the sea but it was torn down. He was imprisoned and fined. However Sadhu, a devout Hindu, did not let that stop him. Instead, he decided to take his temple in the sea. In 2007 the temple was desecrated by vandals. A number of murtis were destroyed, causing public outrage. The temple has since been restored.