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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.