President, First Lady usher in Holi festival with Chowtaal Samelaan
Georgetown, GINA, March 1, 2014
President Donald Ramotar and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar this evening hosted a Chowtal Samelaan and Holi Sangam at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal to usher in the spring festival of Holi or Phagwah.
President Donald Ramotar making brief remarks at the chowtal samelaan at the Guyana International Conference Centre as First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar looks on approvingly
Those in attendance, including Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, several government ministers and members of the diplomatic and religious communities, were treated to a medley of classic Bollywood hits and chowtaal, the traditional Holi melodies.
President Donald Ramotar, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn and Minister of Foreign affairs Carolyn Rodrigues -Birkett at the chowtal samelaan at the Guyana International Conference Centre
President Ramotar in his brief welcoming remarks said that the customs and rituals associated with the celebration of Holi form part of the unique Guyanese cultural mosaic, for which the country is famous.
He noted that this colourful festival has a wonderful message of the triumph of good over evil and said that, “Phagwah itself helps to create an indistinguishable set of people and fosters unity among all mankind.”
Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March. This year, it will be celebrated on March 17.
A women’s group taking part in the chowtal samelaan at the Guyana International Conference Centre
Meanwhile, the First Lady said that Phagwah also reminds people that the season also commemorates good agricultural harvests and fertile land.
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 Prahlad came out unharmed, hence the significance of the burning of the Holika on the eve of Holi.
Guests at the chowtal samelaan
Holi day itself is a carnival of colours when people would apply powder, abeer, (a liquid dye) and abrack- a colourful powder to the faces of persons.