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Undoubtedly Trinidad’s biggest annual event is Carnival, once a pseudo-religious celebration held in defiance of colonial authorities (the British didn’t care for the calypso music so central to the festival), now is far more about dancing and decadence than anything remotely sacred—think New Orleans Mardi Gras with a Caribbean flair. Held over the two days before Lent in March, Carnival is an international event, with travelers from around the globe mingling with colorfully costumed performers in the streets of Port-of-Spain, intoxicated by the sounds of steel bands, the smells of the local cuisine, and maybe an alcoholic beverage or two.
Yet by no means is Carnival the only show in town. The island has large, active Hindu and Muslim minorities, and their respective festivals have been celebrated proudly by the communities and very much embraced by the island’s population at large. Divali, the Hindu Festival of Light, was brought to the island by East Indian immigrants, is celebrated in October or November with food and fanfare. To honor the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed's grandsons Hassan and Hussein, the island’s Muslim inhabitants observe Hosay in April, May or June. A more solemn affair than Divali, and certainly than Carnival (alcohol is strongly discouraged), the five days of processions and public demonstrations are nevertheless colorful and captivating.