Cultural Extravaganza sets the stage for Amerindian Heritage Month Festivities

A diverse crowd gathered at the National Park to witness the Amerindian Heritage Cultural Extravaganza on Saturday evening, a captivating cultural spectacle. The event, anchored by the theme “Preserving Our Cultural Heritage and Identity While Enriching a Unified Guyana,” celebrated Batavia, an Amerindian Village, that was awarded the prestigious title of “Heritage Village of the Year.”

The evening began with a warm welcome from Hon. Pauline Sukhai, the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, who highlighted the significance of Heritage Month.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Hon. Gail Teixeira

“Heritage month is dedicated to our first the people, granting the time, space and opportunity to present to our country their culture and diversity of its people… Here we are again in a significant time in our history when President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali is building out a philosophy where Guyana is expected to rise as one,” Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai told the gathering.

Adding to the grandeur of the event, 243 indigenous chiefs, known as Toshaos, who had convened in Georgetown for the National Toshaos Conference, graced the gathering on Friday. Derrick John, Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, underscored the profound significance of this month for Amerindians. It symbolizes a time when the entire nation comes together to honour the rich cultural heritage of indigenous people, promoting understanding and cooperation.

A cultural dance performed by the Riverside Angels

Meanwhile, Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira, represented the President and delivered a keynote address. She acknowledged the diversity within the nation and emphasized the importance of unity among all citizens.

“Diversity must not be a weapon of destruction but used to build the nation,” she said.

She said Amerindians are the true custodians of the environment and protectors of the forests.

Indigenous crafts on display

“Through their sustainable lifestyles and practices over centuries we have managed to maintain our forests and keep our biodiversity intact,” Teixeira noted.

“There must be greater appreciation for the role indigenous people play in protecting the rainforest,” Minister Teixeira said.

The event featured a diverse program, including dances representing the lifestyles and legends of various Indigenous communities, with performances by the Batavia, Surama, Jawalla, and Mainstay Cultural Groups. Additionally, talented Indigenous calypsonians delighted the audience with their melodious renditions.

Aran Stephen performing the dance of fire

The culinary exhibition was a culinary adventure, offering attendees the opportunity to savor a wide selection of Indigenous dishes, including casiri, piwari, fly, farine, tuma pot, and the ever-popular cassava bread.

The inaugural Amerindian Heritage Month was established in 1994 by the late President Cheddi Jagan. Over the years, the entire month of September has remained dedicated to celebrating the nation’s indigenous communities, providing them with a platform to showcase their rich cultural heritage, traditions, and a wide array of diverse products to the nation.