A kaleidoscope of colours filled the air as Guyanese from all walks of life turned out in their numbers to celebrate the joyous festival of Phagwah.
Celebrations began at the break of dawn in some communities, where eager and youthful souls rushed out of their homes and began pouring buckets of water onto their friends, yelling exuberantly “Happy Holi!”
No sooner were they joined by their parents who also paraded the streets, moving door to door to greet their neighbours, wishing them a blessed Phagwah.
Over the years, the festivity has evolved. “Oh yes, it has evolved! People used to come out early in the mornings and move around on horse carts with buckets of water. I don’t see much of that happening now but now I realise that more and more people are coming out, it’s cutting across racial and cultural divides and everyone is celebrating,” expressed Anara Benjamin.
“We need to unite and put aside our differences. I am a Muslim but it doesn’t matter, I still celebrate Phagwah and Diwali and Easter and Christmas. I think many more people of different races and cultures are coming out to celebrate. For example, I teach and many of my students are here. They are Russian and Indian and Costa Rican, they’re from all over the world and they are here celebrating Phagwah and they are enjoying it,” Shahiba, another Pagwah goer related to Guyana Times.
Indian Cultural Centre
The Indian Cultural Centre held onto tradition and hosted its annual Phagwah Mela which generally attracts prominent dignitaries, including Government officials and parliamentarians, who come together on this auspicious occasion to spread the message of love and unity across the country.
Delivering his Phagwah message to the nation, President David Granger urged Guyanese to live in the same harmony in which they came out to celebrate the festival of colours.
He also highlighted the similarities between Holi and Easter, to make the point that we are all not so different after all.
“The coming together of those two festivals suggests to us that we are really one people, we are really one world… because we are celebrating the triumph of good over evil,” he stated.
Former President Donald Ramotar in his message to the country acknowledged that many families are facing difficulties and he wished that the message of Phagwah would help them overcome whatever burdens they are facing in their lives.
Former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds defined the importance of unity in the Phagwah celebrations. “It’s a season of putting aside all our animosities and let’s hope that we can mark a new path for Guyanese,” he blissfully stated.
Indian High Commissioner Venkatachalam Mahalingam explained that Phagwah is the Indian festival of love that has many legends, including the signification of the ushering of the spring season. He noted that it is a time for everyone to come together and celebrate in love and unity.
Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, on behalf of the Business Ministry also wished Guyanese a happy Holi.
Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, in his message to Guyanese, noted that there are still many problems affecting the country but expressed hope that the message of Phagwah will contribute to the solutions.
“We still have so many wrongs that are taking place in our country today and it is my sincere hope that the message of Phagwah can be used to eradicate the evil that still permeates our society,” he stated.
Other notable and distinguished guests included Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, former Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Greene, among others.
The Guyana National Stadium, at Providence, on the East Bank of Demerara, was another prime venue, featuring refreshing water parks where jubilant patrons splashed around in glee.
Thousands turned up with their gear, enthusiastic to kick off a colourful Holi with friends and family.
The stadium was packed to capacity, with an explosion of colours as persons from all walks of life enjoyed the Guyanese festivities.
Not only was the Guyanese population eager about the festivities, but there were evident visitors from international countries who looked just as fervent. Persons began to flow into the stadium as early as 13:00h and as the hours passed, they quickly crowded with their powder, buckets and water guns. The annual event which is organised by Chief Executive Officer of Inspired Inc, Yog Mahadeo, has been blossoming since it was initiated four years ago.
Speaking with Guyana Times, Mahadeo firstly expressed gratitude on behalf of the company to the Government of Guyana, which he said had embraced this year’s event fully, even allowing them to use the stadium at no cost.
He said the family-oriented event over the years has been receiving positive responses from the public, as the figures continue to climb from the average 25,000 persons.
As the turnout escalated throughout the day, Mahadeo was positive that this year’s event will be one of the biggest in the years.
Despite the holiday being a Hindu observance, Mahadeo said that over the years, it has been attracting more and more persons of different religions, ethnicity and social status.
As the event fosters national unity, Mahadeo said they have accomplished the aim of the initiative which will hopefully live on as part of Guyana’s grand events.
The live entertainment segment of the event featured dances from local dance groups as well as performances from Terry Gajraj, JP, KI and other music artistes.
Phagwah signifies the triumph of good over evil – the triumph of Lord Vishnu over the demon King Hiranyakashipu who had repeatedly schemed to kill his own son Prahalad, who demonstrated a commitment to goodness, humility and the ideals of his faith.