Unity, brotherhood will steer Guyanese towards prosperous future together – PM
…as kaleidoscopic Holi 2023 celebrations transcend all boundaries
Guyanese immersed themselves in vibrant Abeer (coloured powder) and the playing of Phagwah, to welcome this year’s spring season on the Hindu calendar.
The highly-spirited festival which celebrates good over evil was ushered in on Tuesday morning with a Holi programme hosted by the High Commission of India and the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) at Bourda, Georgetown.
Transcending ethnicity and religion, persons from all walks of life gathered at the ground where they enjoyed music and cultural performances. They also participated in a chowtal – a session of singing of spiritual songs, while playing instruments, during the festivities.
Enjoyed with great fanfare, they danced to the rhythms of the Tassa drums, and in merriment threw coloured powder and liquids at each other. The greeting was, “Happy Holi, or Happy Phagwah” in the true spirit of friendship, joy, merriment, and love.
The occasion saw the presence of Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips; Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa; and other Cabinet members and members of the diplomatic community.
During his remarks, Prime Minister Mark Phillips said the festival is one that evokes cohesion in our people every year.
“It is essentially symbolic and for this single day, the participants of the occasion are all an equal mix of colours beyond their race. For this day, we are truly the same and that is an important thought that we should hold on to.”
“Just as we are able to blend beneath a mixture of colours, then so too, can we achieve oneness and unity in our minds through a collective commitment of tolerance, love, and brotherhood,” he said.
Prime Minister Phillips added that this “collective commitment is the aim behind our Government’s ‘One Guyana’ initiative. We believe unity and brotherhood will allow us to steer our country towards a prosperous future together for mutual enjoyment and benefits”.
The Prime Minister emphasised that this unity must extend beyond the day of celebration to become a way of life for Guyana to advance.
“So, as we partake in yet another occasion where the strength of Guyana’s multicultural heritage is on display, I encourage all Guyanese to remember the important lessons of Holi and to take those lessons and apply them to their lives beyond this occasion.”
Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa said Holi is the festival of the nation, and people await the festival because of the amount of joy it brings to all.
“…that is why today we are celebrating with beautiful colours playing around with friends with music, with dance, and with some good food,” he expressed.
Following this ceremony, a large influx of Guyanese across the length and breadth of Guyana celebrated this auspicious event by smearing and applying colours on each other, while cooking vegetarian foods and sharing sweet rice, gulab jamun, pera, and pholourie.
On the Essequibo Coast, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), it was also a kaleidoscope of colours during the annual Phagwah Mela, hosted by the owner of the Jaigobin Supermarket.
It attracted scores of families and friends on the supermarket’s tarmac which was engulfed in bright colours, flaunting families of different ethnic groups and religious backgrounds.
Chowtal Goles sang chowtals in their villages and mandirs along the coast, filling the air with the sounds of drums, jalls, chowtals, and other musical instruments, while residents came out with their Abrak, Abeer, powder, and water to add beauty to the occasion.
Hindus believe Phagwah is the ideal time to forgive and renew relationships and as such, residents in the district visited neighbours, family, and friends to celebrate the Festival of Colours, and put aside their racial prejudice.
The gathering at the supermarket’s tarmac was more than just games of powder and water. The fun and frolic allowed many to share in the festive culture of Holi which promoted unity among the multicultural, multi-ethnic populace which already exists.
The crowd took to their heels and was blazed with entertainment fire when they were amused by cultural presentations from local artists.
During the joyous time, devotees were also told to think good, speak good and do good and be strong, brave, and confident.
Attending the celebration were Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall, Regional Chairperson Vilma De Silva, and Regional Executive Officer Susan Saywack.
As the afternoon swept in some other hues were added, as the dignitaries who attended the event were smeared with all the colours of the rainbow on the grounds of the tarmac.
Meanwhile, Minister Edghill also travelled to the West Coast of Demerara, where he joined in the celebrations.
During his remarks, he encouraged the residents to continue to do what makes them unique.
“Let us continue to do what makes us unique and peculiar, and what distinguishes us as Guyanese. Our love for each other, and the respect we have for each other,” he said.
While Phagwah marks the beginning of spring; in Guyana, the festival is much more than a Hindu festival.
Though it was brought to Guyana by East Indians when they came to then British Guiana as indentured labourers in 1838 from India, over the years it has become a truly Guyanese celebration.
It is regarded as one of the country’s most revered and celebrated festivals and is observed in almost every part of the country.
It is a time when Guyanese of all colours and creeds take to the streets to play, mingle and embrace. Horse carts, trucks, and canters on this day are seen filled with people, delighting in and spreading the colours.
The festival lasts for a day and a night, which starts in the evening of Purnima or the Full Moon Day in the month of Falgun (March). It is celebrated with the name Holika Dahan or Choti Holi on the first evening of the festival, and the following day is called Holi.
In different parts of the country, it is known by different names. (La’Wanda McAllister and Raywattie Deonarine)