By Utamu Belle
As a child, growing up in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), one of my fondest memories of the Easter celebrations was picking and gathering itae pointers, gamma cherries and paper along with my family and friends to construct our kites.
This was an exciting season for my friends and I even before the famous evolution of kites as we were our own little innovators constructing our kites as we saw it fit; from the colours to style, sizes and creative shapes, to creating various models and competing with other children in the neighborhood as to who had the best looking kite.
Then there was the good old ‘caddy ole punch’. This we easily constructed shamelessly utilizing pages from our old school books, pointers from our house brooms and cloth from our ‘old’ clothes. The ‘box board’ kite was a speciality. You ranked high if you could construct your own ‘box board’ or have the most unique looking one with well designed ‘tail’. And then there were the joys and the failures of having the kites raised into the sky, fast running through the neighbourhood in an effort to do so, especially when there was not enough wind for a “good raise”; even crying some days when others laughed at you for not being able to have the kites raised or musing because you managed to do so.
Given that we lived near a ball field, the fun and excitement were never too far away. There were many of these fields in the community at the time before they were taken over by schools and other buildings.
Easter is a Christian celebration which signifies the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Going to church on Easter Sunday and getting dressed up on Easter Monday to fly your kite as is customary in Guyana was how we always spent the holidays. The grownups would prepare cross buns, another custom attached to the observance, a sweet bun made of raisins or Guyanese ‘fruits’ (sautéd carambola), complete with the makeshift sign of the cross which signifies the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on. As a treat, my family would have the cross bun along with milk.
For my cousins and me, we looked forward to rainfall on Good Friday. According to folklore, if you burst an egg into a glass of rainwater on a Good Friday, whatever formation you see is your destiny. We used to look forward to seeing the form of a ship or an aeroplane- which we believed meant we would become travellers in the future.
The Easter celebrations have always created an atmosphere for bringing families and friends together, through kite flying and other fun social activities.
Here in Linden, kite flying lovers flock various locations every year for that memorable experience. Then there are those who travel from various destinations to the community just to find the perfect atmosphere to capture picture-perfect moments.
Since kite flying requires wide open spaces, Linden provides the right setting with countless areas which are situated away from obstacles such as electrical power lines and poles.
In Linden, there are scores of wide open spaces which create the perfect setting for kite flying; which just might explain why so many flocks the community on Easter Monday. Visitors would flock the popular sites such as the Bayroc Community Centre Ground at Wismar and the many dykes on the Mackenzie shore, the Mackenzie Sports Club (MSC) Ground, the Amelia’s Ward back road (Mackenzie) and the numerous ball fields (Silvertown, Christianburg, Silvercity) which are located across the community, but mainly on the Wismar shore. These areas are usually abuzz with social activities and events annually on Easter Monday.
The Bayroc Community Centre Ground, which is equipped with seating facility is a vast sandy landscape with just the right terrain to facilitate kite flying. There is also enough room for other social activities to be conducted at the same time. The MSC Ground, also noted for social events is equipped with seating amenities as well and is sometimes opened to the public to facilitate such activities on Easter Monday.
The dykes, with their mesmerizing natural scenery, are perfect for family outings and kite flying, while the numerous ball fields are always opened to the public. And for those Lindeners who don’t feel like venturing out, their own backyards are sometimes transformed into the perfect kite flying spectacle.
On a typical Easter Monday in the community, the skies are laden with kites, as parents join their children in the activities. Families camp out, usually for the most part of the day and have picnics and barbeques. The more popular venues are often times transformed into party and fete- like settings, complete with music and fun activities and games. Kite exhibitions and competitions for the largest, smallest and most creative kites are also side attractions which draw persons to these venues annually.
For many, the celebrations usually begin with observing Holy Thursday then going to church on Easter Sunday.
While the tradition of children constructing their own kites is becoming more and more non- existent each year, there are those who ply their trade in the community through the making and selling of kites.
Like numerous other parts of the country, the kite- making activity has taken on a more competitive nature, with annual competitions for the largest, smallest and most creative kites. The usual buzzing of the ‘box board’ kites and the site of the good old ‘caddy ole punch’ leading up to the Easter are also becoming nonexistent in the community. Kite distribution exercises of manufactured kites are now new features of the Easter celebrations.
Nevertheless, Lindeners look forward to the Easter celebrations annually, as a time for spiritual reflection and a means of connecting with family and friends on a social level.