Address of His Excellency Brigadier David Granger President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at the Holi Celebration

Sacred Holi and social cohesion

Holi, in the spiritual sense, recounts the trials and triumph of Prahalad. It reminds us of the virtue of an unshakeable belief in God and the inevitability of the triumph of good over evil.

Holi, in a secular sense, fosters faith in the future by celebrating rebirth and regeneration. These are universal themes which are common to all the major religions in Guyana.

Holi is a unifying festival that helps to break down barriers of class, race and religion. When people shower each other with abrack or abeer, they do so usually without regard to the status they enjoy in society or the God they worship.

Holi is an enduring example of cultural retention. The festival was brought to Guyana by Indian indentured immigrants who came to work on the sugar plantations 180 years ago.

The festival implanted hope by assuring immigrants that good would overcome evil, that enlightenment would overcome ignorance and that right would overcome might. Immigrants were thrust into a strange land but they drew strength and succor from their faith and festivals.

Holi celebrations, in our multi-cultural country, bring people together. They play a vital role in social cohesion by reinforcing community identity; fostering healthy and helpful relations between persons of different cultures; dismantling barriers which have traditionally divided our people and by implanting spiritual values of hope and togetherness.

I urge communities, countrywide, to celebrate this festival with faith and fervour. I encourage mass celebrations because they promote community identity and reinforce bonds of social solidarity. Respect for cultural diversity is at the heart of social cohesion.

Holi must preserve its vitality as a festival which unities communities. It must be celebrated vigorously at the community level so that we can have more cohesive communities.

Holi helps to break down barriers of division and bring people together, particularly at the community level. We must build a more cohesive country beginning within and among our communities.

Happy Holi! Ω

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