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Guyana: The Guyana Chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) in collaboration with the High Commission of India celebrated the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas last Friday by upholding the lives of Indo-Guyanese and their connection to India.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas also known as Non-Resident Indian Day recognizes the contribution of the overseas Indian community to India’s development. The program also celebrates the return of Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa on January 9, 1915.

The Friday’s event saw an array of prominent personalities including business tycoon Yesu Persaud, historian Pat Dyal, novelist Ryhaan Shah and Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh, who was the Chief Guest, delivering presentations on the theme “Diaspora – The Indian Connection” to the gathering present.

The Indian High Commissioner Venkatachalam Mahalingam stated, “Guyana is a country where people feel so close to their ancestor’s land and look towards India for tracing their traditions… I cherish Guyana for this quality of placing India on top of their minds in their daily way of life.” Mahalingam noted that the High Commission would facilitate the Guyanese people who are interested in tracing their Indian roots.

In his feature address, Justice Singh remarked, “Guyanese of Indian origin contribute to this amalgam or rainbow culture (of Guyana). We have, in significant measure, kept alive the cultural values and traditions of our fore parents. Present-day Guyanese of Indian origin continue to recognise their ancestral origins and attachment to their inherited cultural values. It is this abiding interest to keep alive their cultural roots that are responsible for the attachment of well-settled Indians here in Guyana to India.”

The chancellor feels the Indo-Guyanese share a closer relationship with their ancestral land now which can be seen in their food, festivals and distinct clothing on celebratory occasions and how advanced multimedia help share culture and practices between them easily.

Meanwhile, Persaud praised the journey of Indo-Guyanese from being “lowly workers” on sugar estates to turning into successful entrepreneurs, doctors and engineers. In his speech, he said, “Pravasi Bharatiya Divas should be celebrated (here) with pomp and glory every year because we have something to celebrate.”

Adding to the line of speeches, Dyal spoke of cultivating closer relations between the two countries, while pointing out the various possibilities where the two countries could learn and receive a lot from each other. He mentioned the Guyanese’ chutney music making an impact in India and of the non-existence of “caste” in the Caribbean. “(A non-caste society) makes life easier, it makes society more integrated and I think this is one of the things that we have had that, at least, India can look at,” he stated.

Dyal further mentioned how Guyana and the Caribbean have successfully managed to eliminate religious differences, still prevalent in India, especially between Hindus and Muslims.

However, Shah in her presentation on the future of Indo-Guyanese gave an insight into the growing suicide rates, drug abuse and alcoholism among the Indian community in the country. The novelist requested High Commission’s assistance for the removal of such tormenting societal plagues through the creation of recreational programs and initiatives for the youth. (picture

(Inputs from the Guyana Times)


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