Trinidad: Machel means no disrespect to Hindu community

(Trinidad Guardian) So­ca su­per­star Machel Mon­tano last night said his chant­i­ng of Hin­du de­vo­tion­al songs dur­ing a re­cent per­for­mance was not meant as a dis­re­spect to any­one and apol­o­gised to any­one who was of­fend­ed by it.

Af­ter video footage of Mon­tano singing the Hin­du chants at a re­cent per­for­mance at Wood­ford Cafe sur­faced on so­cial me­dia, Pun­dit Satyanad Ma­haraj yes­ter­day is­sued a let­ter say­ing “many de­vout Hin­dus are in­censed that the pop­u­lar artiste should des­e­crate Hin­duism by singing Hin­du de­vo­tion­al songs at such a li­cen­tious event.”

Speak­ing to the T&T Guardian fol­low­ing a sur­prise vis­it to the Blue Di­a­monds pa­n­yard on George Street, Port-of-Spain, last night for Panora­ma judg­ing, Mon­tano said he was aim­ing to use his mu­sic to unite the na­tion rather than di­vide it.

Asked about the con­tro­ver­sy fol­low­ing his Wood­ford Cafe per­for­mance, Mon­tano said: “A man might see a woman walk­ing down the road and say hi to her, and she might feel dis­re­spect­ed. You will feel what you feel ac­cord­ing to you. For me, chant­i­ng mantras is a part of my dai­ly life and I un­der­stand the pow­er of it, the pos­i­tiv­i­ty of it and what it says.

“I don’t know what was the dis­re­spect felt. If any­body in any sit­u­a­tion ever feels dis­re­spect­ed by me, the first thing I will want to do is clar­i­fy and say I am sor­ry I of­fend­ed you but what made you feel that it was an of­fence.

“And some of them will say that it is in a place of al­co­hol or a place of danc­ing and win­ing but I think all this has a lot to do with judge­ments and I re­al­ly feel that if you don’t un­der­stand, first seek where a per­son is com­ing from.”

Soca star Machel Montano supports a Blue Diamonds Steel Orchestra bass player during their performance of Montano’s 2008 song “Blazing The Trail” during the National Panorama Small Bands prelimanaries at their George Street, Port-of-Spain panyard yesterday.

Mon­tano said he is a prac­tis­ing Yo­gi who was born a Ro­man Catholic, passed through Bud­dhism and al­so “passed through the knowl­edge of a lot of “Hin­duism and Rasta­far­i­an­ism.”

“I take from (the re­li­gions) the pos­i­tive and the love from every­thing and once I take that in­to me I want to share that with peo­ple, so that at no point in time I am us­ing this for any gain. I am us­ing my plat­form al­ways to say some­thing pos­i­tive to some­body,” Mon­tano said.

He said when he per­forms he tries to reach out to peo­ple no mat­ter what cul­ture they are from or what lan­guage they use and that is what he was try­ing to do dur­ing the Wood­ford Lodge per­for­mance.

“I reach out to peo­ple in their lan­guage and at that point in time there were peo­ple of that cul­ture there and I thought it was a way to bring us clos­er to­geth­er. I would not say that my God is my God and your God is your God, it is one uni­verse, one peo­ple, it is time for us I feel to tran­scend these bar­ri­ers and try to seek first to un­der­stand be­fore you seek to be un­der­stood,” Mon­tano said.

“I have re­spect for all com­mu­ni­ties and I have re­spect for all re­li­gions be­cause I have been part of it and they have all con­tributed to who I am, I do not see any­thing above any­thing and I am nev­er step­ping out as an in­di­vid­ual to do harm to any­body or dis­re­spect.

“So to those who felt dis­re­spect­ed, I feel they must look again but if it has of­fend­ed you then I am sor­ry but to my knowl­edge, this (chant­i­ng) is some­thing that I utilise.”

He added: “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. I have tran­scend­ed all those ways, I don’t eat meat, I prac­tice yo­ga every day, I med­i­tate and I use mantras and I know the im­por­tance of them and the pow­er of them and they are just like pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions, so at no point in time you will ever see me tak­ing a mantra and us­ing it in a dis­re­spect­ful man­ner, I will al­ways use my mu­sic as a plat­form to in­spire oth­ers.”