Rambharose Shiv Mandir and Kootiya
March 6, 2024

By: Karishma Nanhu, Heritage Preservation and Research Officer

Summary: This blog features the Rambharose Shiv Mandir, a historic temple dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva.

The year is 1950. It is a dark, starry night and the typically quiet village in Mafeking, Mayaro, is busier than usual. The atmosphere at the Rambharose Shiv Mandir is alive with the buzz of visitors from many of the surrounding villages. People have come to make offerings to Bhagwan Shiva at the mandir because it is Maha Shivraatri night. Large numbers of devotees have come from Poole, Libertville, Rio Claro, Navet, Kush, Ecclesville, Guayaguayare, Mayaro and Bristol. These scenes continue for many years after 1950 as the Rambharose Shiv Mandir in Mafeking Village, Mayaro, was the only temple in South East Trinidad.

Picture 1: Rambharose Shiv Mandir and Kootiya

Source: Nesyamn Ranut

Map showing the Mayaro Rio Claro Regional Corporation

Source: Mayaro Rio Claro Regional Corporation. https://mayarorioclaro.com/the-region/


A very brief explanation of Maha Shivraatri.

On March 8th 2024, Hindus around the world will observe Maha Shivraatri, which translates as the great night of Bhagwan Shiva. On that night offerings will be made to Bhagwan Shiva, a significant deity in the Hindu pantheon. Devotees stay awake all night, make offerings and say mantras or prayers and sing bhajans (religious songs). The prayer “Om Nahmah Shivaya” is recited while meditating on Bhagwan Shiva. The abishekam is the offering made by pouring a mix of water, milk, dahee, ghee, cane juice or sugar, black til and honey together with flowers and bael leaves on the Shiv lingam (a representation of Bhagwan Shiva pictured below). This is done at a temple or privately at home. Additional offerings include fruits and flowers. Maha Shivraatri has multiple reasons for being important. Briefly, it is the day that Bhagwan Shiva married his wife, Parvati. The day is also significant because according to holy scriptures, it was the day that Shiva saved the universe by consuming poison. This is also the night that Shiva performs the cosmic dance of creation, preservation and destruction.

Picture 2: The Shiva lingam is a physical representation of Bhagwan Shiva. These lingams are located outside the Rambharose Shiv Mandir.

Source: Karishma Nanhu

Picture 3: Shiva Lingam with Shivraatri offerings, Ramjit and Basso Persad Hindu Temple, 2023

Source: Karishma Nanhu


Rambharose Shiv Mandir and Kootiya

From the Naparima Mayaro Road, the mandir and the kootiya are simple and unassuming. If you speak to the owners however, you will find that there is a wealth of history here, and it is indeed a historical landmark. The mandir and kootiya were built around 1920-1922 by Sadhu Rambharose Oudai Singh, Mr. Harrypersad Singh’s maternal grandfather. Mr. Harrypersad Singh is the spiritual leader of the temple.

Picture 4: Sadhu Rambharose Oudai Singh


The Mandir

The mandir was one of the earliest structures in the village, and the village used to be referred to as ‘Ramrose Village’ after the Sadhu and the mandir. The materials used for the mandir were sea sand, red gravel called macadam and cement. No steel was used in the construction. The temple has a number of historical relics. Several murtis (images or physical representations of deities), kalsas (vessels), religious texts and musical instruments were brought by indentured Indians to Trinidad and have survived. Some of these are still in use today.

Picture 5: The Mandir in its original colour.

Source: Mr. Harrypersad Singh

Pictures 6&7: Murtis brought by indentured Indians which are still used for worship at the Rambharose Shiv Mandir.

Source: Karishma Nanhu

Pictures 8&9: The Shiva lingam and the bell are at the forefront. To the back are the murtis used for worship.

Source: Karishma Nanhu

The original elements of the temple are still in use today. Similar to the Reform Shiv Mandir, when the Rambharose Shiv Mandir was built, some murtis were created at the same time. A Shiv lingam and the bell hanging over it, used to make offerings to Bhagwan Shiva, have also been in use since the temple was constructed.

The Kootiya

The term ‘kootiya’ has contextual meaning, here it refers to a cabin or cottage.  The Kootiya was a rest house for travellers, it was open to anyone to stay, it was also used by Sadhus or holy men. The original cedar wooden posts and fretwork remain intact. The Kootiya originally had an open wrap around veranda but this was modified and wooden lattice was added. It is a really good example of an early 20th century wooden structure that is still in use today. The Kootiya is currently used weekly for worship.

Amongst the religious books which are believed to have come from India, is a copy of the Tulsi Krit Ramayan which according to Mr. Singh is rarely found in Trinidad now. They also have two bookstands made of cedar which were passed on inter-generationally with the books. These are stored in the Kootiya.

Picture 10: The Kootiya and the Mandir (right)

Source: Nesyamn Ranut

Picture 11: The interior of the Kootiya

Source: Karishma Nanhu

Visiting the Rambharose Shiv Mandir and Kootiya was very meaningful to me, as there are only a few temples that still exist today in Trinidad where you can see the direct impact of indentured Indians. It has not been rebuilt in a modern style although some modifications have been made. The work of Mr. and Mrs. Singh and their family to maintain the mandir and the kootiya should be applauded.



Primary sources:

Singh, Harrypersad. Personal Interview. 19th January 2024.

Secondary sources:

Mayaro Rio Claro Regional Corporation. https://mayarorioclaro.com/the-region/

Praimsingh’s Pooja Bhavan Ltd. 2019. Facebook.  Maha Shiva Raatri Pooja Guide https://www.facebook.com/praimsinghs/videos/maha-shiva-raatri-pooja-guide/802270527366719/

Sanskruti Restaurant. 2019. What Is Maha Shivaratri And How Do Hindus Celebrate? https://www.sanskrutirestaurant.co.uk/liverpool/what-is-maha-shivaratri-and-how-do-hindus-celebrate/#:~:text=On%2014th%20day%20of,has%20the%20most%20spiritual%20significance.

Sharma, M. 2024. Mahashivratri 2024 Date: When is Maha Shivratri? Know its significance.  https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/religion/festivals/mahashivratri-2024-date-significance-and-celebration-of-maha-shivratri/articleshow/107426954.cms

Shiraz, Z. 024. Maha Shivratri 2024: Is it on March 8 or 9? Date, puja timing, history, significance and celebration of Hindu festival. https://www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/festivals/maha-shivratri-2024-is-it-on-march-8-or-9-date-puja-time-history-significance-and-celebration-of-hindu-festival-101708232191042.html

Tiwari, A. 2024. Maha Shivratri 2024 Date And Time: All You Need To Know. https://www.indiatimes.com/events/maha-shivratri-2024-date-and-time-all-you-need-to-know-627634.html

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