CARIBBEAN FILM: The Madonna Murti (Trinidad & Tobago)

by Darling Nicky


A documentary entitled “The Madonna Murti” is produced and directed by Oyetayo Raymond Ojoade and Sharon Syriac.

Producer/Director: Oyetayo Raymond Ojoade, Sharon Syriac
Editor: Oyetayo Raymond Ojoade
Researcher/ Scriptwriter: Sharon Syriac
Year of Release: 2011; Reedited in 2013
Running Time: Approx. 50 minutes
Narrator: Leah Gordon

Where else in the world is black beautiful, baffling and brings together East and West? In South Trinidad at the Siparia Roman Catholic Church in that “city of sand”, a black female statue venerated by Catholics as the Virgin Mary and worshipped by Hindus as a black Hindu Goddess does just that!

To Catholics who follow her in street processions, the statue is known as “La Divina Pastora”, the Divine Shepherdess – to Hindus who charawe her by touching her arms and feet, she is hailed as ‘Sipari Mai’, (Mother of Siparia) “Siparee Ke Mai” or ‘Mother Kali’. As such, she remains the only symbiosis of Catholicism and Hinduism in the Western hemisphere.

Mystery shrouds her origin and about her, legends and myths abound. Though barely three feet tall when fully clothed, this statue draws pilgrims from every creed and race and the social, cultural and religious rites which accompany her devotions continue to intrigue the world. Well known to pilgrims and devotees who profess her numerous miracles of healings and answered prayers, she is particularly revered by barren women to whom she has given the gift of children and in turn, she receives many gifts of gold and grains, fabric and flowers.

Featuring candid interviews with poojaris, pilgrims, pundits and priests as well as academic experts who have tried to understand her, artists who have tried to capture her illusive image and writers who have tried to tell her story, The Madonna Murti utilizes narrative, drama, illustrations and song to tell the tale of a statue who offers health, hope, help and happiness to those who come to her most in need of it.

The documentary was screened at the following Film Festivals / Events:

  • Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (TTFF) in 2011
    • NAPA Port of Spain in collaboration with UTT Research in Film Series programme in April 2012
  • Siparia Roman Catholic Church, Siparia in June 2012
  • India Diaspora Conference in St Vincent and the Grenadines in June 2012
  • Roman Catholic Archbishops House in April 2013 and June 2013
  • Fatima College Hall on 23rd September 2013
  • Columbia Gorge International Film Festival on 16th August 2013
  • Louisville International Festival of Film 12th October 2013

The Madonna Murti has won two International awards:

  • The Best Shots Competition ‘Awards of Excellence’ (La Jolla, California) in October 2012
  • Indie Fest ‘Awards of Merit’ in November 2013.

The Madonna Murti is certified by the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism under The National Registry of Artists & Cultural Workers program.

You can interact with the film producers on their facebook page at: