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‘True meaning of Phagwah(Holi) is that we erase all barriers and differences’

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Guyana: HOLI, the festival of colors, has been known traditionally as a Hindu observance which symbolizes good over evil. And over the last few decades, having been observed in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as Guyana, it has served as a tool which fosters national unity in a country which continues to make active strides in achieving same.

Holding this convention is President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Dr Vindhya Persaud, who told the Guyana Chronicle that the feeling which emerged from the celebration yesterday is one which Guyanese should embrace every day. “This is the kind of feeling we want to see every day, not just on Phagwah,” Dr Persaud said.

“Everyone was having a good time and it was clean fun. Families were out in their numbers and I think it brought out the true meaning of Holi which is unity, oneness and that sense of equality. The true meaning of Phagwah is that we erase all barriers and differences” she said, adding that the 2016 festival was wonderful.

Meanwhile, she commented on the use of alcohol during these celebrations, stating that Guyana has come a far way in this regard and has registered success. A few years ago, the Sabha’s President had issued a call for there to be a ban on the sale and use of alcohol at Hindu observances, since it undermines the religious significance and taints the observance. And since then, she noted that efforts are being made to erode this culture which is not limited to Hindus.

“During Hindu observances, especially Navratri, I’m happy when I pass the liquor shops and they are empty. But that is not saying that only Hindus consume alcohol, it is not limited to one group. But I want to continue my appeal to tell people to respect the Hindu festivals, because they are highly spiritual and while there is a social dimension to it, there is a time for prayer also,” she said.

Dr Persaud further added that the campaign against the banning of alcohol was a successful attempt at eroding the perceived link between Hindu holidays and alcohol. And having registered success in this regard, she noted that people understand what it means to have clean fun and not incorporate the use of alcohol during these celebrations. “I also want to appeal to the young people to understand the significance of these holidays even while they are having fun,” she added.


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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean

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