‘Arrival Day is a time to celebrate the diversity’ – Indian High Commissioner

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See below full message on the occasion of Arrival Day from the High Commission of India to Guyana:

Namaste. Greetings from the High Commission of India.

On behalf of the Government and people of India, I extend my best wishes to all Guyanese and friends of Guyana on the occasion of Arrival Day.

The histories of all nations contain certain significant junctures which point to a reshaping and a transformation of society. For Guyana, one of those junctures was the arrival of the the Ship Whitby into then British Guiana 184 years ago from the port of Calcutta. It was on this day in 1838, the first group of Indian Immigrants, as Indentured Labour, set foot on this land at Highbury on Berbice River to work in sugar plantations. Thus 5th May is a very important day in the history of Guyana and is celebrated as Arrival Day because the arrival in Guyana from India substantially changed the course of Guyana’s history. It is also an important day for the Indo-Guyana bilateral relations as the cultural linkages brought in by the East Indians still act as a bridge between Guyana and India.

Arrival Day is a celebration of a nation carved out of the meetings of many worlds and cultures and we commemorate the arrival of the many peoples who came to these shores. Ancestors of present day Guyanese came from various parts of the world: Europe, Africa and Asia, and those who came met the Indigenous people. History informs us that not all came freely and of their own volition; some were forcibly brought here, and others were lured by the promise of a better life and opportunities. In the case of the indentured laborers from India, historians tell us that for varying reasons, these men and women left the familiarity of their homes in the pursuit of the promise of a better future. Their arrival brought in new traditions, a new language and new ways of thinking. The preservation of these customs enabled those pioneers to cope with the arduous journey across the seas and the daily rigors associated with the harsh realities of life on the estates. Whether they came as slaves or as indentured laborers, they all had to endure the indignity of a cruel system. These challenging conditions were met with great persistence and a determination to succeed. The outcome of these efforts is evident today and has been woven into the fabric of the identity of Guyana where they continue to make, an indelible mark in Guyana’s national development. This country has always benefitted from the rich heritage and the diversity of the experiences of its people. Those very experiences enable us to transcend societal and economic differences.

As we are all aware, Indian religious rituals, cuisine, customs and traditions have indeed enriched the country’s cultural mosaic. Indian enterprise diversified the local economy. Indian descendants ventured successfully into politics and were active in social organizations and in sport. Indians have achieved prominence in all aspects of national life. They cultivated respectful relations with other races and, in so doing, fostered the development of a more cohesive nation. They are an integral part of the political system and, together with other ethnic groups, contributed to the evolution of Guyana’s demography, economy and society.

It is fascinating to note that so many years after the arrival of the last ship in 1917, the desire for the exchange of ideas and economic cooperation persists. It is my hope that the cultural ties that this nation shares with India will facilitate a deeper understanding and collaboration at the global level. We would continue to work together toward mutual benefits and closer ties. It is in consideration of all of these things that today’s celebrations have taken on a renewed and more potent significance. Let us continue to be encouraged by the sacrifice and bravery of the people who helped to shape this nation.

Today, we pay our humble tributes to the contribution of all those who came to Guyana either as slaves or as indentured immigrants or as volunteers and their descendants.

Arrival Day is a time to celebrate the diversity spawned by the many peoples that came. It is a time to recognize how privileged the nation is to be a nation of so many cultures, each adding richness and value to the national tapestry. It is time to reaffirm your commitment to Guyana so that it can continue to traverse along the road of peace, unity and progress.

I once again wish all of you a very Happy and Safe Arrival Day. God bless you all. Long live Guyana-India partnership.

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