More than colourful designs, Rangoli unites Guyanese youth

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Creating rangoli patterns is an increasingly popular part of various hindu festivities in Guyana and is now a permanent aspect of the local Diwali activities. Youth-led competitions, all across the country, have helped to popularise this traditional Indian artform.

This week, several youth rangoli competitions were organised in various communities and regions, offering Guyanese youth a chance to illustrate their creativity.

At Prashad Nagar, Georgetown, inside the Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud Sanskritik Kendra, scores of students from 15 secondary schools gathered on Wednesday to illustrate their creative talent.

The task was simple; they must create a rangoli that meaningfully depicted Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights.

Marian Academy students working on their design depicting Mother Laxmi (Photo: News Room/ October 19, 2022)

Those students dropped their bags, pooled their ideas, got on their knees, and chalked designs on the concrete floor.

Soon after, they filled the patterns with rice or flour- delicating attempting to stay within the lies and bring together their creation. And in about two hours’ time, they completed their masterpieces and were ready to tell the judges what those designs signified.

Some schools focused on featuring the epic tale of Lord Rama defeating the demon king Ravana while others revered the Goddess of light and prosperity, Mother Laxmi.

The winning design from the St. Rose’s High school and the students who created it (Photo: News Room/ October 19, 2022)

In the end, it was the St. Rose’s High School and their unique gradient design of Lord Rama defeating the multi-headed Ravana that took the top prize.

Bavina Rampersaud, one of the 11 students and a Hindu who worked on that piece, said that she usually celebrates Diwali in grand style. And this rangoli competition offered her a chance to share a special observance with her colleagues, who were all just as enthusiastic as she was.

“We wanted to do something different from all the other schools and we wanted to make it memorable since it is our last year (of high school,” Rampersaud highlighted.

Then there was Kingston Secondary School student Shunique James, who is not a Hindu, but confidently told the judges just how this school’s design depicted the triumph of good over evil by paying homage to Goddess Laxmi.

Students from the Kingston Secondary school beginning to work on their design (Photo: News Room/ October 19, 2022)

“… it’s a nice experience because I have never did this before and next time, when I finish school, I’d like to visit my friends and come do this again,” James said.

Beyond creating the designs, however, many agree that the events served to bring Guyanese youth together- embedding values of unity.

In fact, President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha Dr. Vindhya Persaud told the News Room that there is still a deeper significance to this specific youth-focused activity.

For her, diverse groups of students joining hands is microcosmic of the tolerance and camaraderie in Guyana’s society. And those values, she said, should be fostered always.

“It’s very inclusive, it brings people together of every ethnicity, every belief, every background and it not only brings the young people together but it involves their teachers and parents too.

“So, it is a very unifying experience,” she posited.

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