Junior Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Nicolette Henry on Friday said Diwali-the Festival of Lights- instead of Phagwah, would be celebrated next Sunday
“On Sunday, March 12, here in Guyana and around the world, Hindus will be celebrating Diwali- the Festival of Lights- and today, my Department of Culture, Youth and Sport is holding this its annual Phagwah celebrations in honour of this festival,” she said.
Phagwah, the Hindu festival of colours or festival of love, will be celebrated on Sunday.
She described the festival as one of the most joyous festivals that helps to foster national harmony among the diverse Guyanese society and again called it Diwali. “It is important that in this Diwali Celebration (several persons were heard correcting her) Phagwah, sorry, celebrations we all hold high to the vision for justice and betterment for all especially to the poor who will always be among us,” she said.
This is not the first time that Henry has come under the spotlight, the first having to do with the use of plastic plates at a 50th Independence Anniversary State Dinner last year and the bungling of seating accommodation for the opposition at that year’s Flag Raising ceremony at D’urban Park.
The Government Information Agency (GINA), in a release on the event, quoted Henry as saying during brief remarks at the event which was held at the Ministry’s Main Street office, that Guyana is one of few countries blessed with many cultures.
“May it bring joy, peace, health and wealth to you; may the festivities brighten your lives and those near and dear to you,” Minister Henry said while extending Phagwah greetings to all Guyanese. She expressed hope that Guyanese can appreciate and enjoy each other’s culture, in keeping with the country’s motto, ‘One People, One Nation, and One Destiny’.
Persons were treated to cultural presentations in the form dance, songs, tassa drumming and a fashion display by members of the Cove and John Ashram.
Meanwhile, President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo also extended Phagwah greetings to Guyanese.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo stated that, “This year’s celebration coincides with the observance of the 100th Anniversary of the Abolition of Indian Indentureship. The ending of that system of exploitation of cheap labour, is indeed a triumph of good over evil. We are forever indebted to our Indian ancestors for preserving, against great odds, their religion, their rituals and their festivities, such as Phagwah, and Diwali, Mother Kali Puja and Yesu Kathas, Eid-ul-Adha, Youman Nabi, as well as other Christian ceremonies.”
The Prime Minister added that, “Though we face our challenges, we must all work together to overcome them, and to realise our common hope for the good life for all.”
President David Granger speaking at a recent mela and cultural event hosted by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh to mark the 100th year since the abolition of Indian indentureship in Guyana, declared that there will be three national days of observance.
GINA said on March 12, President Granger is expected to officially announce that day as a national day of observance. The following day (March 13), Guyana will observe 104 years since the Rose Hall Estate Massacre where 15 persons were killed. That event is usually observed on different days in March each year.
The Head of State said that on May 3, the Government will officially declare that day as Portuguese Day since that is the day that ethnic group arrived in what was then British Guiana.