While many persons would have observed Phagwah 2017 yesterday, (Sunday, March 12, 2017), the date declared by Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, a number of communities also celebrated the festival today (Monday, March 13, 2017) along with the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.
On Sunday, persons from all walks of life gathered at the Indian Cultural Centre in Bel Air, the National Stadium and other well-known locations to observe the ‘festival of colours.’
Gathering at the Indian Cultural Centre were members of the Government and Opposition, putting their differences aside and engaging in the celebration of ‘good over evil’.
Delivering his address on the occasion, President David Granger Holi has extended a bond beyond Hindus to other religious and ethnic groups. The President, who participated in the traditional Phagwah play, said that that the celebration is even more joyful, this year as the nation commemorates the centenary of the abolition of Indian indentured immigration.
The High Commissioner of India to Guyana Mr. Venkatachalam Mahalingam, during brief remarks, said that the Festival of Holi represents love and explained several legends on which the celebration is based on in India. Moreover, he said that Holi indeed represents a merging of cultures and speaks to Guyana’s motto; One People, One Nation, One Destiny.
Meanwhile, on Monday, persons gathered at the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground and the Everest Cricket Club Ground among other places to do same with members of the Dharmic Sabha.
In her message to mark the occasion of Phagwah, President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha- Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud highlighted that Holi transcends all barriers.
“There is complete equality and unity. The RANG or colours make us virtually unidentifiable, removes every distinction, emphasising the oneness of humanity or the famous Hindu concept VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM – Humanity is one family,” she said.
Dr. Persaud added that Holi is all embracing in its meaning and possesses an unparalleled social dimension which is conducive to reunion, exchanges and togetherness occurring in an atmosphere of absolute cordiality.
“The festival is proletarian in outlook with elements which spontaneously fashion an atmosphere of total equality wherein all barriers are removed and people from all walks of life and social strata are literally engulfed in merriment, joy and happiness.”
Though there has been a mix-up in the date for Diwali over the past two years, it is the first time that the Hindu Community is divided on the celebration of Phagwah. However, both days saw much participation.
The festival also received more attention following a blunder by the Minister with responsibility for Culture, Nicolette Henry, who said on Friday that Phagwah is the ‘Festival of Lights’. She alluded to the ‘festival of lights’ which is Diwali observed during the month of October, twice during her speech at an event hosted by her Department on Friday last. The event was also streamed live on Facebook, however, her subsequent message to mark the ocassion failed to offer an apology.