Regardless of the perceived magnitude of the blunder, Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton believes the Culture Minister, Nicolette Henry owes the Hindu community a public apology for mixing up their religious holidays.
Henry, the Junior Minister within the Education Ministry with responsibility for culture, youth and sports, confused Phagwah with Diwali and was seemingly oblivious to her mistake.
“I would begin by saying Happy Phagwah, Happy Holi. On Sunday, March 12th, here in Guyana and around the world, Hindus will be celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights,” she stated, not realising her blunder as she continued her prepared speech.
A minute later, she made the mistake again.
When compared with her Diwali speech last year, her Phagwah speech this year bore much resemblance – causing many to conclude that it was recycled.
Public outcry surround the Minister not realising her mistake, not apologising for it and not finding it important enough to take the time to write a fresh speech about Phagwah.
Interestingly also, the Culture Minister was absent from major cultural events hosted on March 12 in observance of Phagwah, including those at the Indian
Cultural Centre (ICC) and the Providence National Stadium where other Government Ministers had gathered.
The Social Cohesion Minister, during an interview with Guyana Times at the Phagwah Mela at the ICC, suggested that Minister Henry was probably busy.
Commenting on the Culture Minister’s holiday mix-up, Dr Norton conceded that the situation warranted an apology.
“There is nothing wrong in an apology…I went public, and I apologised to the whole of Guyana because the occasion called for it,” he stated.