Forgetting differences is message of Holi –President- expresses hope for unity in National Assembly
Georgetown, GINA, March 17, 2014
An atmosphere of joy and jubilation permeated the grounds of the Indian Cultural Centre in Bel Air when President Donald Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar joined Guyanese in Phagwah celebrations today.
Holi or Phagwah is the Hindu celebration of the festival of spring with a mix of water and colourful powders. Apart from Spring, there are a few other events celebrated at this time, all signifying the triumph of good over evil.
President Ramotar focused on the recognition of unity being built through cultural and ethnic diversity in Guyana. He indicated that the festival is no longer an Indian celebration but a Guyanese one which is one of the uniqueness of the blend of cultures.
Government and other Officials at the Phagwah Programme at the Indian Cultural Centre
“Holi brings us together. The powder, the abeer remove distinction and remind us that we all come from the human race and that we are all one people,” he stressed.
“We hope that this is the spring for Guyanese society….in this regard I want to hope we will have unity in the National Assembly…and that we will pass the Anti Money Laundering bill and save our people from a lot of trouble,” the President stated.
Acting High Commissioner of India to Guyana Tirath Singh described the festival as the culmination of festivities which began with the planting of Holi and being celebrated with bonfires and colour, all focusing on the victory of good over evil. “It is an ancient festival in India which finds its mention in many scriptures,” he said.
President Donald Ramotar and Opposition Leader David Granger participate in the Holi celebrations at the Indian Cultural Centre
Over the years he noted the legend has changed, from the story of Prahalad and today, “Holi is celebrated all over India to celebrate the harvest festival and several rituals are performed by married women in particular for happiness of their families and also the worshipping of the full moon.”
He particularly stressed the brotherhood during this time when people share their joys and successes with friends and family by applying colourful abeer on each other. Singh noted this is especially so in a country where there is cultural diversity.
Leader of the Opposition David Granger welcomed the festival as an auspicious occasion which brings Guyanese from four continents together, without boundaries and barriers. He expressed the hope that Holi brings “us together, not only today, but for the rest of the year, even the National Assembly.
President Donald Ramotar exchange Holi colours with Acting High Commissioner of India to Guyana Tirath Singh
The festival’s significance leads back to the ancient story of King Hiranyakashipu and his son Prahalad. The king wanted everyone to worship him, even his son, but the young man defied him and his father tried several times to kill him, but failed. He even ordered his son to sit on the lap of his demonic sister Holika on a pyre, but again good triumphed over evil and Holika was burnt to ashes as Prahalad came out unharmed, hence the significance of the burning of the Holika on the eve of Holi.
Today’s programme consisted of cultural performances including dances and songs. The event was also attended by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green, Ministers of Government, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Private Sector, Members of Parliament, the Hindu Community and Indian Nationals living in Guyana.