Unity in diversity: Phagwah festivities illuminate Guyana

In a dazzling display of colours and joy, Guyana came alive on Monday as people from all walks of life across the nation’s 10 administrative regions celebrated the festival of Phagwah (Holi).

The air was filled with delightful scents and the echoes of laughter, resonating from the bustling streets of Georgetown to the coastal and across the hinterland villages.

Guyanese participating in Phagwah activities in Region 3

During the festivities, the Department of Public Information (DPI) was on the ground capturing the essence of Holi and documenting moments of harmony and unity shared among the people.

Through interviews with individuals from diverse backgrounds, DPI chronicled their experiences, emotions, and plans for the celebrations.

Narita Ramanan, a resident of Alexander Village, Georgetown shared her plans for the day.

“We had satsang [worship] this morning. We shared a lot of sweetmeats and stuff and we are going to the members’ home now to play Holi and then we’ll be driving around, we have some overseas guests with us so we’re taking them around to see what Phagwah [is] like in Guyana,” she said.

DPI also caught up with another resident of Alexander Village, Devon Seeram, who emphasised the importance of the festivities.

“Phagwah for us symbolizes good over evil. It is the festival of colours. So, annually the Seeram family, we put together a small Phagwah get-together whereby we invite family, close friends, and the neighbourhood in general,” Seeram shared.

He added, “We prepared a lot of sweetmeats and treats, seven curry you name it. And it’s just our way of promoting goodwill and giving back to the community.”

In communities like Albouystown and Sophia in Georgetown, residents can be spotted participating in the festivities on the streets.

Meanwhile, in other communities, families come together in their yards to partake in this family-oriented event, strengthening bonds and cherishing moments of togetherness.

Later in the afternoon, all roads lead to the Guyana National Stadium at Providence, East Bank Demerara for a grand event to culminate the festivity.

Phagwah festivities and its significance

Phagwah, the festival of spring and colours is a celebration deeply rooted in the Hindu religion. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, the removal of all negativities and vices, the promotion of equality and brotherhood and the blossoming of love and unity.

The word ‘Phagwah’ derives from the Hindu month, Phalgun. Its synonym Holi comes from the Sanskrit word ‘hola’ meaning grains, reminding of the festival’s linkage to agriculture and bountiful harvest. It also heralds the advent of spring and the Hindu New Year.

Smearing each other with vibrant colours symbolizes the blooming of spring. This act signifies the message that we are all one family and that differences should be erased. It also sends a powerful message that hatred, animosity, and discord must never win over love and unity.

What makes Phagwah truly symbolic in Guyana is its reflection of the country’s diverse cultural fabric, where people of various ethnicities and faiths converge, breaking barriers and spreading the message of peace and happiness.

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