The smoke ceremony being performed at the Hyarima Monument

A scaled-down version of the annual Amerindian Heritage Festival took place for three days from October 12 to 14. Officiating was Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, leader of the First Peoples Santa Rosa Community in Arima.

Celebrations included a ceremony at the Red House in Port-of-Spain, a water ceremony at a location off the Arima Blanchisseuse Road and a traditional smoke ceremony at the Hyarima Monument in Arima.

Prior to COVID-19, the festival attracted large delegations from Suriname, Guyana, Belize and other Caribbean countries who took part in a procession through Arima and other activities. The smaller festival held this year served as a time for reflection and recognition of the indigenous peoples in the land they once called Kairi.

Chief Ricardo Bharath pours pywarie, a fermented form of toasted cassava, as part of the ceremonial offering
A breath of smoke done as a form of purification
Women lighting incense near the river
Chief Ricardo enjoys the river water