On behalf of the national community I extend condolences to the family of Satnarayan Maharaj, who passed away last night at the age of 88. It was only recently that we met and chatted for the first time when we both attended a Ramleela in Sangre Grande.

Satnarayan Maharaj was a lifelong advocate for the wellbeing of the East Indian community and a key figure in the promotion of Indian culture and heritage.

He was the longest-serving Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, spending over forty years overseeing the development of the Hindu religion, education and culture. Under his leadership, the SDMS built, equipped and modernised many primary and secondary schools, early childhood education centres and mandirs.

Mr. Maharaj was unafraid to challenge the status quo and was a consistent and outspoken voice on matters of national significance. He was at the forefront of efforts to change the original name of the nation’s highest award, the Trinity Cross, to one more representative of this country’s multi-religious identity. He also successfully obtained a broadcast license for his organisation to operate a radio station following a lengthy court battle.

A long-standing Hindu religious leader and pioneer, Mr. Maharaj was awarded the Chaconia Medal Gold in 2010 for long and meritorious service to Trinidad and Tobago in the sphere of religion. His contribution to the religious and cultural landscape of this nation will not be forgotten.