The Madonna Murti

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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.
Oyetayo Raymond Ojoade, Trinidadian-Nigerian film director has produced and directed seven documentaries. His film Shouters and the 'Control Freak' Empire won The Best International Short Documentary Award at the Colombia Gorge Film Festival in 2011 and The Madonna Murti won The Best Shorts Competiton 'Awards of Excellence'  in La Jolla, California in 2012 and Indie Fest 'Awards of Merit' in November 2013.

He has a Bachelor of Technology in Industrial Design (graphics) from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University of Technology, in Bauchi, Nigeria and a Bachelor of Arts in Film from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

He is currently working on another thought provoking documentary entitled From Adam's Rib.

Sharon Syriac is currently a Communications lecturer at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and a Cultural Studies postgraduate student at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She has twice won scriptwriting awards from the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company for The Madonna Murti (2008) and From Adam’s Rib (2011). 

In the 1980’s, Sharon attended Holy Faith Convent, Couva, where She excelled at English Language and English Literature. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, then a Master of Arts in Literatures in English and another Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Fiction) all at the University of the West Indies, She discovered that her interest in writing led her almost naturally towards scriptwriting.  Sharon's education taught her how to channel her passion. This led her to ‘how’ to create.


Angelo Bissessarsingh
Ravi Ji
Dr. Kumar Mahabir
Fr. Martin Sirju

Directed by
Oyetayo Ojoade
Sharon Syriac

Written by

Sharon Syriac

Director of Photography
Oyetayo Ojoade

Sharon Syriac

Oyetayo Ojoade

Mark Gilbert and Joanna Shortt

Photographs / Artwork
Oyetayo Ojoade

Special Thanks To
The Siparia RC Church