Mashramani returns after two-year hiatus

an explosion of colour, creativity and culture on display

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the people of Guyana, after two years have risen to celebrate Mashramani 2023 in an explosion of colour, creativity and culture.

The annual celebration was not held for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the return of Mashramani was met with enthusiasm, jubilation and love.

The word Mashramani is derived from an Amerindian word which means “celebration after hard work.” Guyanese who lined the streets of Georgetown expressed same.

“Mashramani means celebration after hard work and we know we’ve had a hard past three years, so this is just a time to come out to celebrate with family and friends,” said Guyanese songwriter, Timeka Marshall.

The celebration of Mashramani is an expression of the country’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. The festival began in 1970, just a few years after Guyana gained its independence from Britain, and it has since become a significant national holiday. It is a time when Guyanese people come together to celebrate their cultural identity and the progress they have made as a nation. This year’s theme encapsulates just that, “Mixing and Mashing as One Guyana.”

The festivities began early in the morning with a grand parade that winds through the streets of the Garden city, Georgetown. The parade displayed the country’s rich cultural diversity, with participants dressed in traditional costumes representing the six different ethnic groups- Africans, East Indians, Amerindians, Europeans, Chinese, and Portuguese.

As the parade moved through the streets, spectators were treated to a dazzling display of colours and sounds. The air was filled with the beat of drums, the sound of steel pan music, and the lively rhythms of the tassa drum. Participants danced and sang, and the crowd joined in, creating a festive atmosphere that was infectious.

“After being inside for so long and we now come out to celebrate this Republic day as One Guyana, it’s just amazing,” expressed Amanda DeSouza.

Another Guyanese, Nadish Prashad said, with pure joy in her voice, “I have my five-year-old son. He is so excited to be here. It’s a great experience. I can feel it in my bones”.

The celebrations continued with street parties and cultural performances. The streets were lined with food vendors selling traditional Guyanese cuisine, including curry, roti, and cassava bread.

Exhausted crowds gathered around the vendors, enjoying the delicious food as they prepared to prance in powerful exuberance.

One vendor, Jasmine Nedd is happy to see everyone out in the streets, as it will help to support her business.

She said, “This is the first time I’m observing Mashramani and I must say, it’s beautiful. I’m so happy and I’m so proud. I’m doing a little Barbeque here and having a good time.”

As the day progressed, the celebrations reached a crescendo with the Mashramani Float Parade.

Floats were decorated with elaborate themes and colourful designs representing one or more unique aspects of Guyana, as they moved through the streets, accompanied by vigorous dancers and melodious musicians. The floats represent the creativity and ingenuity of the Guyanese and were a sight to behold.

One competitor shared his views on the float competition, “we’re very optimistic in that we will be taking home that prize…  mixing and mashing as One Guyana,” said Mr Soochan, Deputy Executive officer, Region 10. 

To experience this one-of-a-kind celebration, many people travelled home to Guyana.

“I’m back in Guyana and I’m looking forward to the mixing and the mashing,” said Nadine Andrews.

Persons were also celebrating with their families in the gardens, either picnicking or taking an afternoon stroll with their children. “We enjoying we self, celebrating as a family… after hard work is a celebration and we celebrating,” said Troydell Hardin, who was having a picnic with his family.

The Mashramani celebrations culminate with a grand finale at the National Park in Georgetown. Thousands of people gathered to watch performances by local and international artists, including singers, dancers, and comedians. The event is a fitting end to a day of celebrations, and it showcases the talent and creativity of the Guyanese people.

In conclusion, Mashramani is a celebration of the cultural diversity and progress of Guyana. It is a time when people come together to celebrate their achievements and to express their identity as a nation. The festival is a testament to the vibrancy and creativity of the Guyanese people, and it is an event that should be experienced by anyone who wants to appreciate the beauty of this small but culturally rich country.