In our changed Carnival culture, band launchings have become an integral part of the annual celebrations, more so as the Carnival celebrations have now become a year-round business. There are two distinct and separate functions—the business side and the entertainment side. A band launch is one way of telling the world about the planned presentation, inclusive, at first of drawings of the costumes. Today, however, that event has taken on a different face as professionals are used to actually model the costumes of the various sections of the band. Word & Associates, creators of the Catholic Band, with its first presentation—Genesis 1-Creation—in 2011, opted once again, for a softer type of launch which took place last Wednesday at the Assumption Church Hall in Maraval.
When it was first mooted that the Roman Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago was considering putting out a Carnival band to actually participate in the street parades on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, it became a bone of contention among members of the church. Strong feelings were articulated against such a proposition, with many folks taking the moral high ground in the issue. The producers prevailed and the band hit the road on Carnival Monday. And while its numbers were few, they still managed to create a positive impact on devout Catholics as well as the general public, to the point that the band actually won two trophies in its inaugural year—a feat no one had envisaged during the controversial entrance into full scale Carnival. The following year (2012) Word & Associates portraying Exodus, attracted an increase in masqueraders and again was in winners’ row, copping four prizes in various categories, including Band of the Day at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
The band’s portrayal for Carnival 2013—The Book of Leviticus—is expected to attract more masqueraders since the popularity of the band has grown with revellers who want to get away from the beads ’n bikini syndrome, while still anxious to “play mas’” at Carnival time. Carnival is an integral part of this country’s rich cultural heritage and what better way to travel down the road of evangelisation than utilising an event so rich in our culture. The success of the Catholic band must be regarded as a direct counter to what now passes for costumes in our modern Carnival bands and so the band is indirectly showing a different side of our Carnival celebrations, complete with the enjoyment. Our Carnival celebrations therefore, is one medium through which the church could actively pursue the strengthening of the Second Pastoral Priority—Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity—in a way that touches so many people, not only the masqueraders, but the spectator public as well.
Word & Associates, through its Carnival presentations, is clearing the way for more Catholic groups within the church to use the vehicle of culture for the purpose of evangelisation. Sr Juliet Rajah, who is head of catechetics in the church put it very aptly when she wrote in the Catholic News, Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity does not call us to go back to former times— “the good ole days”—but to bring the Christian values we once lived so easily in our lives.”
Vernon Khelawan is the media relations officer at Catholic Media Services Ltd (Camsel) the official communication arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain. It offices are located at 31 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. Telephone: 623-7620