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ISSUE # 10

10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

GUYANA’S EAST INDIAN IMMIGRATION & HERITAGE MAGAZINE 2017

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“Centenary of the Abolition of Indentureship” Horizons 2017 - 1 www.horizonsguyana.com


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Contents

Donald Ramotar Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo Sir Shridath Ramphal Reepu Daman Persaud Indranie Chandarpal Dr Oudho Homenauth

54 56 58 60 63 64

Naya Zamana A Guyanese Theatrical Production Goes International

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Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha Commemorates 100 Years After Indian Indentureship

Cricket, Our Game, Our Passion, The Rise of East Indian Cricketers in Guyana

72

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At Novar, for Bhojpuri Music & Dance

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Meet Ben Parag – His incredible Singing Journey

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Emerging Voices Season 2 The Hottest TV Reality Singing Show

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The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana Serving the Cause of Islam and Humanity

34

National Festivals that Bridge Ethnic and Religious Divides It’s Fun! It’s Colourful! It’s Phagwah! Diwali the Festival of Lights

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Chowtaal Samelan Takes off in the USA

40

Contentment and a Mild Spirit… Seven Decades Together

Publisher's Message Editor's Message

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From Calcutta to British Guiana Indian Immigrants Allotment to Estates in Guyana – 1838-1917 The 1896 Petitions Towards the End of Indian Indentureship

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Abolition 100 Celebration at Leonora Guyana Indian Indentureship Abolition Association (GIAA) hosts Garv aur Izzat

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Young Trailblazers Dr Mahendra Carpen Rosh Khan Patricia Bacchus Gina Arjoon-Hira Kevin Daby Daniel Ram Umami - The Story of Entrepreneurs Chris and Chanchal Persaud

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Dillion Mahadeo

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Studying Music in India - Bath Settlement’s Suraj Balkarran

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Exploring India- The Know India Program

90

Monuments to Our History & Culture

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National Medley of Traditional Dishes

48

My Experience as the First Guyanese to Attend Acting School in India

92

Nachle DesignsPreserving Indian Culture Through Unique Fashions

94

Advertising Index

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Movers & Shakers East Indian Descent in Guyana Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo

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Horizons is published annually by: Advertising & Marketing Services (AMS): P.O.Box 101582, 213B Camp Street, Georgetown, Guyana, Tel: (011592) 225-5384 Fax: (011592) 225-5383 E-mail: info@amsstlucia.com

Editorial Contributors: Lokesh Singh, Dr Vindhya Persaud, Neil Marks Simantini Trishala Persaud, Kumar Kissoon, Bibi Khatoon Keeran Singh, Khemraj Singh, Yogita John Naleni Persaud, Alva Solomon, Kiana Wilburg Avenash Ramzan, Deodat Persaud, Travez Piaralall, Guyana Inc, National Trust of Guyana

Publisher / Managing Editor: Lokesh Singh lokesh@amsstlucia.com

Historical Documents: Radha Krishna Sharma

Editor: Dr Vindhya Persaud Project Co-ordinator: Nerissa Moore

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Advertising Sales: Lokesh Singh, Fiaz Yamin, Lesa Fleming Graphic Design & Layout: Advertising & Marketing Services Heimant Ram

Contributing Photography: Amanda Richards, Heimant Ram, National Archives, Ministry of the Presidency, Office of the Prime Minister, GINA, Dharmic Sabha USA Praant, Shamer Hescott, ESPN CRICINFO, E Networks, Javin Singh, Fidal Bassier © Copyright 2016/17. Reproduction of any material without the permission of AMS is strictly prohibited. AMS reserves the right to determine the content of this publication. AMS wishes to express sincere thanks and appreciation to all parties who have assisted in making this publication a reality.


PUBLISHER'S MESSAGE

THE HORIZONS TEAM

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ast Indian Indentureship to British Guiana started in 1838 and continued until March 1917 when it was abolished. Today in March 2017, we observe “the Centenary of the Abolition of Indian Indentureship” and celebrate the freedom of our foreparents from bondage. The movement to end Indian Indenture was started by Indian nationalists in India agitating with the British authorities who firstly suspended Indentureship on March 12, 1917, and finally confirmed its abolition on March 27. All remaining contracts were voided by the British Parliament on January 1, 1920. Sugar was King in the 1830s. With the expansion of sugar plantations in the British colonies and the abolition of slavery in 1834, the demand for labour was responsible for the arrival of the East Indians to our shores in 1838 and the beginning of “a new form of slavery.” East Indian Immigration to British Guiana started with the arrival of two ships - the Whitby and Hesperus landing in May 1838 with the first 434 East Indians bound for various plantations across the country. During the period of Indentureship, 239,909 East Indians were delivered to the colony of British Guiana as indentured labourers helping to build and shape our Guyana of today. This 10th Edition of our Horizons Magazine focuses on the “Centenary of the Abolition of Indentureship” and shares glimpses into the past, of some of the painful and positive issues, and the difficulties experienced by our foreparents in their struggles to take their rightful place as equal citizens in Guyanese society and to make Guyana a better place for future generations. We also reflect on our rich and colourful East Indian history and heritage and the outstanding contributions of some of our sons and daughters who have contributed to Guyanese history. We proudly look forward to the mounting of the East Indian Heritage Monument at Palmyra, Berbice as a tribute to the contribution of our East Indian foreparents to the development of Guyana. We thank the former and current Governments of Guyana and the Indian High Commission for making this project a reality. Let us celebrate this Centenary of the Abolition of Indentureship with a mission to preserve our heritage and culture and play our part in building our communities and country for the benefit of all of our citizens. We say a special thanks to our Editorial Team of Dr Vindhya Persaud and Neil Marks for their passion and commitment. We also say thanks to our contributors, photographers, advertisers and the AMS Team for their support in the delivery of this Magazine.

Lokesh Singh Publisher / Managing Editor

Neil Marks Writer

Nerissa Moore Admin/Coordinator

Lesa Fleming Account Executive

Fiaz Yamin Account Executive

Lokesh Singh Publisher

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Heimant Kumar Ram Graphic Designer


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EDITOR'S MESSAGE Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud

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he 179th year of Indian Indentureship and 100 years after the end of Indian Indentureship have been captured in this issue of Horizons magazine through the hitherto untold stories, the standout moments in history and a plethora of historical documents and images. Numerous events, initiatives, struggles and achievements of the Indian Indentured immigrants and subsequent generations have contributed to shaping Guyana of today. Perusing the pages of this edition will catapult you to a time of untold hardship under bondage and tweak your curiosity about those who came, the circumstances that caused them to leave India for these shores and what propelled them to stay or return to India. Stories of uprisings, revolutions, shootings and sacrifice will cause you pain, as much as the stories of enduring love will inspire. To say that Guyana’s early history is fascinating is an understatement, because I think it offers answers to so many issues that persist even today, challenges and explains stereotypical perceptions and gives insight to the many factors which divide and bring us together as a people. Key to a people’s unity must be a genuine effort by all segments of the population to understand each other’s origins, culture and beliefs with the aim of respecting and accepting that while we may differ, we have stronger bonds which united us decades ago in the fight for independence, democracy and human rights. History is a palpable energizer which must never be misused nor distorted but must serve as a guide for current and future generations to craft a better world. Our customs, traditions, culture, hardships, struggles and sacrifices have all honed our make-up; given us a sturdy backbone to resist the relentless challenges and vicissitudes of today’s world. Indentureship never stifled the immigrants’ fearlessness nor did it daunt their will in preserving their culture and tradition. This lesson and innumerable others populate the period of 1838-1920. As we observe 100 years after Indian Indentureship, it is incumbent on us to have grasped the essence of these lessons so that we can be better prepared to triumph over adversity in all its shades. We must be imbued with an optimistic, resourceful and courageous spirit in preparedness to leave our meaningful and positive legacies for future generations. Horizons magazine pays tribute to those souls who embarked on many horrendous voyages to an unknown destination to a future that demanded incredible willpower to survive. They remained here, struggled, carved a home and destiny for their families and bequeathed the foundation on which we build every day. I would like to thank the Publisher, contributors and writers, Mr. RK Sharma, who allowed us to feature a tiny portion of his

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extensive collection of historical documents and records and graphic artist, Heimant Ram for making this issue of Horizons Magazine a reality. This magazine is a passionate exercise in documenting history, the journeys of those who charted the course of history, the present and the future through a glimpse of the current generation of trailblazers. At home, or scattered in the Diaspora, Guyanese continue to excel and create waves in diverse fields making their country proud. WE thank those who travelled in many ships over those relentless waves as Indentured Immigrants for setting examples of courage in the face of tremendous daily hardship as from the beyond they continue to motivate us to find our own strength in today’s dynamic and unremitting world.


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From

Calcutta to

British Guiana

The First Journey on the

Hesperus in 1838

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register of the Indian indentured immigrants bound for British Guiana in 1838 taken at Calcutta, the port of embarkation, reveals that the first batch of those leaving India was overwhelmingly comprised of men. Described as being varying shades of brown, of average height, many with small pox scars and wearing earrings, these immigrants climbed aboard the Hesperus - one of the ships destined for the first voyage to British Guiana. Not many were aware of the destiny that awaited them in British Guiana, called Demerara in those days. Inveigled and cozened by the wiles of unscrupulous recruiters, only a few of the Indian Immigrants registered their families or wives. There are many theories and reports that relay why few women came on the first boats. Maybe, the men were kidnapped or told that they were going within their country or made to sign contracts with terms they did not comprehend, or the recruiters were mainly interested in male able-bodied labour unencumbered by the demands of a family. Families may have been split up as the immigrants were taken to the various plantations.

Indentured Labourers on Ship

Highbury in Berbice, the first destination where the Immigrants landed, remains a heritage site in Guyana where tribute is paid annually to these souls who unwittingly signed up for five year contracts of hardship. The register that follows illustrates the names, castes and conditions of the first hundred Indians who registered at Calcutta to make the arduous journey on The Hesperus to British Guiana in 1838.

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Indian Immigrants Allotment to Estates in Guyana – 1838-1917

ames Rodway posited that “Indian immigration was destined to revolutionize the whole Colony and become a most important factor in its progress.” The ships Whitby and Hesperus carrying a total of 437 men, women and children landed on the shores of British Guiana on May 5th 1838 having lost 16 of those to death on the sea. These first immigrants were distributed over Plantations Vreed-en-Hoop, Vreed-en- Stein, Anna Regina, Bel Vue, Waterloo and Highbury. The Coolie, His Rights and Wrongs, Notes of a Journey to British Guiana, with a Review of the System and of the Recent Commission of Enquiry, by Edward Jenkins, 1871 documented; “With between forty and fifty thousand wards in the colony, distributed over the one hundred and fifty estates that spread along the sea-shores and river banks for hundreds of miles; with the names, ages, estates &c., of every one of them to be kept duly registered; with four or five thousand additional

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per annum arriving to be disembarked, identified, allotted, registered; with semi-annual visits to be paid to every estate, and re-indentures to be granted to immigrants whose time has expired; with constant apparitions of discontented individuals, and occasional irruptions of large bands on strike; with investigations to be made into complaints either of officials or of the labourers – the office of the Immigration Agent General may now be said to be second to none in the Colony in the amount of work to be done, as it certainly is second to none in importance.” Over the ensuing years, many followed from various parts of India and continued to be assigned across the length and breadth of Guyana to various estates. The last ships arrived in 1917. All historical documents featuring the estate allotment of the indentured immigrants are from the private collection of Mr. Radha Krishna Sharma

Estate Allotment 1872-1878 West Coast Demerara


Estate Allotment 1878 - 1886 - Berbice

Estate Allotment 1915-1917 East Coast Demerara

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The 1896 Petitions

Dholak and Dance at Indian Wedding Ceremonies after 10pm by Trishala Simantini Persaud

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n February 6, 1896, the Daily Chronicle reported that Elizabeth Alfred, a ‘cooliewoman’, was charged with permitting persons to play on drums during a wedding celebration in her yard in Regent Street beyond 10pm. Permission had apparently been given up to 10pm but the drums were played into the morning hours. His Worship, Magistrate Henry Kirke, noted that it was unfair that the coolies, who he observed composed a large a portion of the population, should be deprived of amusing themselves in their own way while other groups were allowed to have continuous drumming despite this being annoying to their neighbours and this was not suppressed. He expressed the view that the police should not have interfered in this case where persons were being married and enjoying their celebration but nevertheless fined the defendant two shillings. Following the incident, several immigrants petitioned the Governor and Court of Policy complaining of harsh measures adopted towards them in the holding of their native ceremonies and accusing the Government of having no interest in their welfare as shown by their complaints about the matter falling on deaf ears. They pleaded with the Governor to take their ‘sad case’ into his kind consideration and cause their grievances to be enquired into by the Local Government and for there to be a stopping of the very harsh measures adopted by the police authorities. A second petition by the immigrants highlighted that upon being recruited in India, they were informed that their religious as well as social ceremonies would in ‘no way or manner be interfered with’ and that this was repeated to them at the Depot in Calcutta prior to their embarkation. The petitioners submitted that Section 157 of the Immigration Ordinance of 1891 provided for East Indian Immigrants to contract marriages according to their religion and personal law and by a priest of their own religion and that in the carrying out of such ceremony it was most essential to have native music in which a dholak or small drum is used and that these nuptials generally continued through the night. However, they highlighted that section 172 of the Summary Conviction ordinance restricted them from carrying out aspects of their native ceremonies, in particular beating of drums, without the permission of a Magistrate or Police. They argued that section 172 was inconsistent with the 1891 Immigration Ordinance and that it was never the intention of the Legislature to interfere with the rites and ceremonies of the East Indian Immigrants. The petitioners further stated that the ‘British Guiana Government Authorities at Calcutta had caused to be put on board each Emigrant ship leaving Calcutta about one dozen

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Dholaks or small drums for the use of the Immigrants” and this, they argued, showed that these instruments were essential and always used by the Immigrants at their ceremonies and festivals. The petitioners also pointed out that other nationalities resident in the colony were allowed to celebrate their nuptials and anniversaries by Balls throughout the night “perhaps to the disturbance of the neighbourhood”.

given them under section 172 of Ordinance No. 17 of 1893 to use dholak or drum and dance after 10pm on the occasion of marriage ceremonies and praying that the law be amended. According to Villiers, the Governor had been informed by the petitioners that the use of dholak or drum and dance was essential part of the marriage rite according to the religion and personal law of many of the East Indians Immigrants and had therefore deemed it right that some relaxation should be made in their favour. However, the Governor did not think it necessary that there be legislative amendment. He instead instructed that all officers be advised not to impose a 10pm limit to the wedding celebrations. It is indeed ironic that some 120 years later, Guyanese are still required to seek permission to play music at their weddings and other celebrations and very often you hear of police officers coming to insist on the lowering of volumes or that the music be shut off. Persons getting married are required to apply to a Magistrate under section 13 of the Music and Dancing Licenses Act, Chapter 23:03 for a temporary license for specified hours to have a public singing, dancing, music or any other form of public entertainment at their homes. Section 175 (1) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Cap 8:02 makes it a criminal offence to play music or make any form of noise, that is: so loud and so continuous or repetitive as to cause a nuisance to occupants of premises in the neighbourhood.”

Finally they argued: “Your petitioners respectfully beg to state that they are true and loyal subjects of Her most gracious Majesty the Queen of England and of the Empress of their native India and as such are emboldened to respectfully claim the rights and privileges as are accorded to other nationalities in this colony so long as such privileges are conducted in an orderly, decent and law abiding manner ..” On May 6th, 1896, Acting Government Secretary, Francis Villiers, wrote to all Magistrates and the Inspector General advising that a petition had been received from certain East Indian Immigrants alleging that permission was never

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Towards the End of Indian Indentureship

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any will say that the Indian indentured immigrant enjoyed a certain level of freedom of movement in Guyana because they migrated and set up villages and agricultural hubs in most parts of Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo. But this was not so early, and even later, in the period of indentureship. It was this restriction of movement and other inhumane acts that propelled the resistance against indenture by the immigrants.

RESTRICTION OF MOVEMENT Strict vagrancy laws restricted the movement of the Indian immigrants. Restriction of worker’s liberty was one of the strategies employed by planters after immigrants were assigned to estates to sustain localized labour. The “pass “ system they developed to achieve this, exposed labourers to many indignities as without a ‘pass’ signed by the estate manager if they wanted to leave the estate of residence, they would be arrested by colonial police. There was a level of cunningness in it, as it not only confined them for labour purposes but prevented them from being exposed to wage differences on other estates. It gave an excuse for excessive punishments. It was felt that any exposure outside

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of their domain would lead to desertion and uprisings. The exercise of power and control was excessive and planters were happy seeing the labourers on their estates either “at work, in hospital or in prison”. Their arrogance oozed from the knowledge that they were supported in the mistreatment by the colonial police. One Demerara planter publicly stated, “Give me my heart’s desires in Coolies and I will make you a million hogsheads of sugar”. The consistent oppression by the planters chafed and from the 1860s onwards, the myth of Indian docility was to be seriously challenged. Indian indentured labourers began to openly defy the system. As a consequence there was a steady deterioration of industrial relations, increasing working class protests and imperial investigation. Labour unrest were marked by resistance and struggle. The planters were forced to contend with a spate of violent eruptions and disobedience as the immigrants and labourers retaliated against the overbearing behaviour of managers, wage rate disputes, disagreement over tasks, sexual exploitation of women by overseers and the arbitrary deduction of wages of labourers.


From the British Emancipator of the 9 January 1839 I see the British public has been deceived with the idea that the Coolies are doing "well;" such is not the fact; the poor friendless creatures are miserably treated, at least I can speak confidently of plantation Bellvue. On this estate they have made two attempts to escape, as they say, to go to Calcutta. In the first, 22 succeeded by night to cross the river, landing on the opposite shore; they attempted to explore the woods, but after undergoing much fatigue and hunger, they were retaken at the back of plantation Herstelling, and conveyed again to the estate. In the last attempt they were discovered by the watch of the night, and driven back. I saw a gang of them last week in custody of the police, who were taking them to the public buildings; their offence I did not learn. I inquired of Mr. Berkeley, who is a teacher on the place, respecting food; he said they had enough of rice, and I think "fat" or lard. Deaths, he said, more than ten have died on this place, Bellevue, and the manager (Russell) refuses to give a rag of clothes to bury them in. I had one of these Coolies in my own place, who is capable of saying a few words in English; he told me, "Russell no good; Coolie sick salt, salt no more." He was all but naked; and a friend present gave him a few old raiments, which seemed highly to please him. They are paid here with the Company's rupees, five rupees a month. Is not this scandalous? They have been offered by the merchants two bits a piece for them. I do not believe they can get its value in the colony. Ought not the planters to be compelled to give their value in Demerara silver currency? I have also heard that two from Gladstone's estate escaped through the bush, and were captured by Captain Falant, at Fort Island, in the Essequibo River, and brought back to the plantation. Surely these things are far from being "well;" the one alluded to above told me, "Calcutta better." SOURCE: Parliamentary Papers, XXXIX NO. 463, 1839. MF42.266-6

MOUNTING UNREST AND LOSS OF LIVES The most violent strikes in the indentured period occurred at Devonshire Castle, Essequibo, in 1873, Non Pareil in 1896, Lusignan in 1912, and Plantation Rose Hall in 1913 where 15 Indians were killed including a woman, Gobindai. The first disturbance took place at Plantation Leonora, West Coast Demerara in July 1869. The issue was the withholding of wages. The ringleaders of this disturbance were arrested, convicted and incarcerated at the penal settlement, Mazaruni. The following year violence erupted at Plantations Hague, Zeelugt, Vergenoegen, Uitvlugt, Success and Non Pariel. Plantation Devonshire Castle in 1872 - the uprising was prompted by widespread dissatisfaction with the allocation of tasks, prices offered, long hours of work, unilateral pay deductions from labourers, wages and general ill-treatment and abuse. This time there was confrontation with colonial police who opened fire and five labourers lost their lives while some were seriously injured. 1913, brought the Rosehall uprising. At Plantation

Rose Hall on the Canje River (in Berbice), it was the custom to grant two to four days holiday at the end of the grinding season. On the 27 January 1913, one week after the grinding season, the holidays were granted but cancelled the next day, the manager claimed that planting had to be done. On the 29th January, all the indentured labourers turned up for work, but, Smith, the manager took legal action against seven men whom he felt had influenced others from resuming work on the 28th January. The other labourers protested saying that they had on their own stayed away from work and asked him to withdraw the summons against their seven colleagues. Smith’s refusal led to a trial in February. The men were charged and Smith urged the swift transfer of some of the men , unknowing to them. On the 13th March, the day of the trial of those who were charged, the other workers refused to go to work and instead went to the court to hear the cases.

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THE END OF INDIAN INDENTURESHIP Riots and disturbances continued with regularity in the 1890s and in the early years of the twentieth century. Towards the end of the Indentureship system, labour protest had assumed various forms including work stoppage, mass picketings, violent demonstrations, marching to the Immigration Department, assaults on managers and overseers, coupled with passive resistance such as feigning illness, malingering and deliberately performing poor work. The stage was set for the end of a period of turbulence and hardship.

Overseers, Guiana, 1897

On the same day, the Inspector General of Police and the Immigration Agent suddenly decided that since police motorcars were present at the court house, the transfers of the five labourers could be done then. The news of the planned transfers of the five persons spread very quickly, and this incensed the other workers. The five were not prepared to move so suddenly, and they were fully supported by their colleagues. The police called on the threatening crowd to disperse, and the Riot Act was read. The policemen then arrested Ganga, one of the men, and they were immediately attacked by the crowd with sticks and broken bottles. The police opened fire and 14 men and one woman in the crowd were killed. A Commissioner was appointed by the Governor to investigate the circumstances of the killings at Rose Hall. The Commissioner found that police did not inform the labourers very clearly whom they were about to arrest. He also stated that if they were told very clearly that the men who were to be transferred would not be removed by force, the tragic event would not have taken place. Despite this finding, no blame was placed on the police for the killings. POLICY CHANGE It was policy changes in India that led to a period of benevolent neutrality from 1845 throughout the 19th century when colonial emigration became state controlled. Mohandas Gandhi’s exposure of the abominable conditions under which Indians laboured in South Africa, and the refusal of the South African government to abandon its discriminatory laws led to attention being paid to the plight and treatment of Indians elsewhere. The end was in sight when Lord Hardinge, Viceroy of India (1910-16) who in 1915 called Indian immigrants nothing more than “scraps of humanity” attacked the evils of the system, including recruiting irregularities, a high mortality and suicide rate on the plantations, “indescribable” sexual immorality in the immigrant camp, excessive prosecutions for minor infractions of the law. The Indian government had to act decisively to terminate an inhumane system. A massive anti-indenture campaign largely confined to India, comprised of speeches, petitions, pamphlets and propaganda, eventually led to the abolition or cessation of indentureship by the nationalist Indians extended over a few years.

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On 4th March 1912, Gopal Krishna Gokhale moved a Resolution in the Imperial Legislative Council calling for the prohibition of Indian indentured labour. “Sir, I rise to move: That this Council recommends to the Governor-General-in-Council that the Government of India should now take the necessary steps to prohibit the recruitment of Indian labourers under contract of indenture, whether for employment at home or in any British Colony. India is the only country, which supplies indentured labour at the present moment. Why should India be marked out for this degradation?

The conscience of our people unfortunately asleep too long, is now waking up to the enormity of this question, and I have no doubt that it will not rest till it has asserted itself.” By the end of 1914, Congress agreed that emigration was detrimental to the self-respect of Indians in the colonies and to India as a whole and passed a resolution which advocated for “its abolition as early as possible, the system being a form of slavery which socially and politically, debases the labourers and is seriously detrimental to the economic and moral interest of the country.” In 1916, Congress urged that Indian emigration should be immediately stopped and that recruitment of such a form of labour be prohibited during the ensuing years. By 1917, the position was strengthened, the Congress noted that, “nothing short of complete abolition of indentured labour, whether described as such or otherwise, can effectively meet the evils which have been admitted by all concerned to have done irreparable harm to the labourers.” At that time also, Gandhi threatened to have Satyagraha if the indentured emigration system was not abolished by the end of March of that year.

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On 12th March 1917, an order was passed to this effect and by January 1, 1920 indenture officially came to an end. Horizons 2017 -

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President David Granger receiving the salute from ranks of the Guyana Defence Force upon his arrival at the tarmac of the Leonora Synthetic Track and Field Facility

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Abolition 100 Celebration at Leonora

Mela and cultural show was held on the tarmac of the Leonora Synthetic Track and Field Facility in early March organised by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangha (HSS) in collaboration with the Guyana Indian Indentureship Abolition Association and funded significantly by the Government of Guyana. The feature address was delivered to the large crowd by President David Granger who said that the celebration of the centenary of the abolition of Indian indentureship is a timely tribute to the recognition of the struggles of the fore-parents of Guyanese of Indian ancestry and is a fitting foundation for the building of a more cohesive nation. He said that Indian indentured immigration transformed the culture, the demography and the political economy of what was then British Guiana. The Head of State pointed that indentureship was akin to human trafficking and if it was still in existence today, those responsible for this oppressive system would have been jailed. He also reminded of the brutal murders that occurred in various parts of the country when Indians started to resist the abuse and brutality. He said that the coastland is littered with memorials to the martyrs of riots including at Devonshire Castle, Enmore, Leonora, Non Pariel, and Rose Hall, which is commemorated on March 13. Meanwhile, Parliamentarian Mr. Irfaan Ali, who spoke on behalf of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, urged citizens to use the milestone to contemplate how far they have come as a nation and where they would like to be. “It is the responsibility of all of us, to act collectively to ensure that the

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A tassa group performs at the event

foundation that was laid by those who came before us, is not destroyed,” he said. Head of the HSS, Mr. Ravi Dev spoke in details of horrors of the indentureship system. He also spoke of the contributions of the freed African slaves, who left the plantations after 12 years and began the Village Movement, which laid the foundation for democracy in Guyana. Apart from the informative presentations made by the speakers, the crowd was entertained by paratroopers from the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and a cultural programme. The evening’s proceedings ended on a high note with a spectacular fireworks display put on by the GDF.


Prime Minister Nagamootoo and his Wife Sita Nagamootoo observe a beautiful rangoli design which depicts the official logo of the 100 years anniversary celebration of the abolition of indentureship

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Four Indo-Guyanese of varying religious backgrounds light the traditional lamp at the start of the observance ceremony on Friday evening at the National Cultural Centre

Garv Aur Izzat

programme “Garv aur Izzat” was organised by the Guyana Indian Indentureship Abolition Association (GIAA) at the National Cultural Centre and featured a number of speakers and a cultural program to commemorate 100 years post Indian Indentureship. The speakers included Activists, Ryhaan Shah and Ravi Dev, Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament (MP) Adrian Anamayah, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, V. Mahalingham and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo. This event was funded in part by the Ministry of Social Cohesion, and also featured a presentation by the Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton. Ryhaan Shah in her presentation quipped, “we came on ships and are leaving on jet planes.” She then proceeded to give the reasons for the departure, the main one being that a

safe and secure future is denied us in a country that we have worked for and died for. Ravi Dev said: “We cannot talk about celebrating the end of indentureship when last December 1,700 persons were thrown out of work.” Prime Minister (PM) Moses Nagamootoo posited, “If we were to ask the question if we were better off today, I would say we are better off because we were fed with the milk of courage, of resilience and we never surrendered. We have much to celebrate after 100 years because Guyanese who have become the offsprings of indentured servants have excelled in all endeavours. We have become proud citizens of an independent country and we will build on the dreams and aspirations of our ancestors.”

The panel of presenters at the launching of activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Abolition of Indian Indentureship in Guyana

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Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha Commemorates

100 Years After Indian Indentureship

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Photos by Javin Singh

00 years after Indian Indentureship brought with it moments of nostalgia, reflection, assessment and projection by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha as the organization held a multi-dimensional commemorative event on March 10th at its headquarters, the Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud Dharmic Sanskritik Kendra. Those who attended enjoyed a comprehensive exhibition featuring a traditional kitchen complete with utensils and

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popular Indian foods, a variety of traditional clothing, artifacts, a multitude of images of the immigration period, beautiful paintings and mini artworks by young artist Teena Sahadeo, brass, musical instruments, puja display, Ramleela costumes, brightly coloured rangolis and an impressive collection of books written by Indo-Guyanese chronicling the history of the Indentureship period and historical documents from Mr. Radha Krishna Sharma’s private collection. The exhibition generated


much excitement and discussion and persons poured over the ship records and historic documents excitedly. The evening unfolded with a superb programme blending guest lectures by Professors Kapil Kumar and Chandrashekar Bhatt from India with classical and folk dances, Taan and Biraha singing by Guyanese Ganindra and Trinidad’s flamboyant Sadhuji of the Krishna Leela group respectively and songs by local singers Sookrane and Mona. The music stayed true to the old style with the use of harmonium, dholak and dhantaal. The highlight was a dramatic presentation directed by young actor Travez Piaralall that brought home the reality of the challenges the Indians faced once they landed here. His was a tale of attempts by the colonial masters to cause a cessation of religious cultures, the separation of families when fathers were transferred from one plantation to the next, and then finally a decision for them to demand their rights and fair working conditions and their united stance against their colonial

masters to achieve freedom. The modern day elders in the play lamented the current issues which still plague Guyanese and Indians and emphasized that even though a century had elapsed some circumstances remained unchanged. The play ended on a triumphant note however, illustrating the strides that the descendants of those who suffered so much hardship had achieved. It was a beautiful illustration of life then and now through the eyes of youths. In their brief presentations, the Professors, who have both done extensive research on Indian Indentureship stressed the relevance of India to the Diaspora and the importance of the sustenance of culture and religion over the years as well as the need to strengthen links with India through travel. Dr. Vindhya Persaud, President of Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha urged that more research and documentation be done on Indian immigrant women. She applauded the accomplishments and achievements of the ancestors and their descendants while acknowledging that many ills existed today, in spite of struggles for betterment. She pointed out that there were gaps in history that needed to be researched and documented to explain why certain names, customs and traditions vanished even though many persons came from specific states in India. Dr. Persaud paid tribute to those whose Horizons 2017 -

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courage and industry resulted in their descendants inheriting a rich heritage of culture, skills, traditions and beliefs, economic and agricultural knowledge and the ability to be resilient in the face of difficulties. She also expressed admiration for contributions that different groups made to Guyana’s varied tapestry and landscape over the years. She also lamented the hardship faced by workers in the rice and sugar industries which have been integral to the economy of the country. The night came to a delicious end, as patrons were treated to traditional Indian foods, including khichdi, saada roti, baigan choka and Karila curry served in the customary lotus leaf much to the delight of all who attended.

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At Novar, for Bhojpuri Music & Dance When slavery was abolished in 1832, the English sugar barons needed workers, and Indians - duped by promises of riches in the land of El Dorado - made the arduous trek and settled here, working under slave-like conditions. When the indentureship scheme ended in 1918, some of the workers chose not to return to India and it is the descendants of those who chose to remain here that make up 40% of Guyana’s population today. Those who remained practiced Bhojpuri culture, a way of life now known only by trinkets of language, song and dance. By Neil Marks It is said that Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, of Bhojpuri-speaking natives, were the main recruiting grounds for Indians who were lured to these shores. But just what is Bhojpuri? “It’s mostly Hindi (maybe 90%) and the rest is the local dialect,” says Pradeep Samtani, an Indian commerce boss, who also serves as President of the Indian Commemoration Trust, a group which dabbles in the promotion and preservation of Indian culture here. Many words have a similar phonetic sound in Hindi and Bhojpuri. So, for example, the word for beautiful is “khoobsurat” whereas in Bhojpuri it is “khapsoorat.” Most young Guyanese of Indian descent have little to no idea of Bhojpuri culture, so when I heard that Bhojpuri singers and dancers were performing at Novar, Mahaicony, I decided to take the trip. I take up a seat, and thankfully, I get Maharani Persaud, a jolly old lady, to sit next to me. With all the excitement on her face, you’d swear she knew what this whole show was about. But she was clueless, as was the 200 or so other persons. “Long time music,” she tells me, as she perks up to listen, giving me a nudge to the side. Bhola Pandey, the lead singer of the group gathers the music sheets and is getting ready to perform as the musicians tune their instruments. “You ever heard of him before?” I ask. “Na.” The group was brought here by the Indian High Commission. Gyanita Dwivdei, the female singer seated comfortably on the floor, announces that Pandey will sing a “Kajri” which is typically sung during the monsoon season in India. “So I hope it rains,” she says. Apparently, nobody told her that after months of rain we were, at the time, fed up of the rain, and besides, when you call down rain on a singer, we understand that to mean he/she is simply no good. Anyway, she preps the audience. The song is a romantic number. The husband has gone far away for work, and so with the first drops of rain, the wife begins to miss him. The music starts. Bhola Pandey is on the mic. Blank stares greet him. “You understand what he is saying?” I ask. “Na, but he sound nice,” Mrs Persaud tells me. “They can cuss you and all and you na know,” she laughs.

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“Lata and Mukesh song and suh me like man,” she tells me, referring to the legendary Indian playback singers of Hindi cinema. That’s the music she has come to hear. “But that’s Bollywood music; this is Bhojprui music.” “Yeah, but it nice.” Bhola Pandey breaks out into another Bhojpuri song and Mrs Maharani gets involved. She is tapping her feet, clapping her hands, and her head is doing a strange motion. “The beats carrying the hit!” She still doesn’t understand the lyrics, nor has she ever heard the Bhojpuri songs. The rest of the audience hasn’t either, but they are well mannered and offer pleasant cheers at the end of every song. “You want to hear some Bollywood songs now?” Gyanita asks. She didn’t have to ask twice. Bhola Pandey breaks out into Chookar Mere Mann Ko Kiya Tune Kya Ishara, a Kishore Kumar hit from the 1981 film Yaarana, starring Amitabh Bachchan. This is the sort of stuff


Mrs. Persaud lives for, and she gets into a swaying motion as Pandey sings the soothing number. Then, things couldn’t get better for Mrs Persaud, as the music for 1972's Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai tunes up. The audience breaks into rapturous applause, and Bhola Pandey serenades them. But the reception was the most when Gyanita burst into Lag Jaa Gale, the evergreen classic from the 1964 psychological mystery film Woh Kaun Thi, featuring Sadhana and Manoj Kumar. Mrs Persaud could go home, satisfied that she got the nice, old tunes she came for. And she liked the Bhojpuri dances too. In Guyana, Bhojpuri music resembles a lot of what Kanchan and Babla covered in their songs, which many call Chutney. Pradeep Samtani, mentioned earlier, says that the upbeat music of the Kanchan and Babla songs, along with the semiHindi, semi-Creole lyrics, are reminiscent of Bhojpuri music, as they speak to everyday life, be it romance (Benjie Darling), frustrations (Darmat Karo) or employee/employer relationships (Oh Manager). But while there is some semblance of Bhojpuri culture in the music, the language has almost disappeared, as opposed to Suriname, where the language and music still thrives. There is good reason for that Mr Samtani says. “We were a British Colony,” he says, and so English was spoken. To get into good schools, many Indians converted to Christianity, and so its teachings, in English, helped to erode the Bhojpuri language. But more than that, Mr Samtani says there was also a time when young Guyanese were shy to speak the language as they felt they would be called “countryside” people and so they

opted for Western cultures. In Suriname, Dutch was the main language, and there was not as great a pull factor to change religion or cultures to fit into society. In the countryside of Guyana, there still remains remnants of the Bhojpuri language. Those who speak “raw” or Creole, depending on how you see it, punctuate their everyday speech with the Bhojpuri/Hindi language. So for example, your paternal grandfather is called “Aja” and your paternal grandmother “Ajee.” Some of my nephews and nieces call me “Mamoo,” which refers to your mother’s brother. Surendra Kumar Gambhir , in his study of the East Indian speech community for his doctoral paper at University of Pennsylvania in 1981, notes that from 1875-1916, Indians who spoke a number of other languages, including Avadhi, Maithili and Khari Boli (Old Hindi) and Tamil were brought to Guyana. He found that as the Indians intermixed, a form of Bhojpuri overtook the other languages. But the word Bhojpuri was not commonly used, with most calling the language Hindustani, which is what the language is called and used in Suriname. But the Tamil culture and language was not drowned out by what Gambhir called Guyanese Bhojpuri and this is seen in the fact that a siezable population of the Tamil Indians remains in Guyana and practice their culture, mainly seen in religious rites, especially in Berbice area. Bhojpuri culture is perhaps most pronounced in the singing styles at Hindu celebrations. What exists today, though in limited form, are Taan and Chowtaal singing, with Taan being more on the decline.

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Emerging Voices Season 2

The Hottest

w o h S g in g in S ty li a e R TV

Photos by Amanda Richards

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hen Vishok Persaud, the Managing Director of E-networks conceptualized Emerging Voices Season 2, he had a vision of providing a platform for Guyanese singers and placing them in the international spotlight with their contemporaries from outside of Guyana. To achieve this, the company moved the already successful Bollywood singing show which had completed its first season two years ago to another level by adding the reality factor to its second season. A creative and technical team was brought in from Mumbai, India to script and craft content for 12 episodes, train and manage a local technical team to film the shows, create background stories and transform a venue into a short term, high tech environment for Season 2 of Emerging Voices. Scores of Guyanese found themselves part of the crew for Emerging Voices Season 2 and a grueling schedule unfolded that required everyone to get many things done in record time for what was undeniably the most talked about and watched Guyanese TV show in recent times.

E.V hosts Jared Kissoon and Taruna Tewari

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E.V 2 Producer - Vishok Persaud

(l-R) judges Indar Kanhai, Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Jeffrey Iqbal

The three judges Jeffrey Iqbal, Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Purnash Durgaprasad auditioned over 150 singers from across the country and the finalists were exposed to live and virtual sessions of intense musical bootcamp to prepare them for the season. The competitors came from different parts of Guyana and had varying levels of expertise but they all benefited from training from Judges Purnash and Jeffrey. They were required to sing various genres of songs and to include the added elements of performance and entertainment in their routines. A full complement of musicians from India added Bollywood flair and expertise to the show as many of them were seasoned artistes who had played for top Bollywood singers, concerts and television shows. From the moment the first episode aired, viewers were blown away by the grandeur of the set as nothing of this magnitude has ever been done in Guyana. Guest judges KI Persad, Neval Chaitlall and Indar Kanhai of Trinidad and Tobago all expressed the view that the sets and production were the first of its kind in the region and on par with many international TV shows. For the first time, in addition to being aired on E-networks

Purnash Durgaprasad

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channels and other local stations, Emerging Voices Season 2 was broadcast live on Facebook. This shot the viewership and interest up into the thousands and placed the show into the homes and hearts not only of Guyanese abroad but diverse persons and countries who had an interest in singing. The show had a faithful following that grew with each episode. People overflowed with compliments on the production quality and sets, but like any competition the brickbats also came when their favourites were eliminated. People were able to relate to many of the contestants

Jeffrey Iqbal

Dr. Vindhya Persaud


EV 2 Top Eight Finalists

through the window that was provided into their lives via stories aired on them throughout the season. From a mother telling her son that she will deal with him for entering a competition against her wishes, to the struggles and hardship of parents to educate their children and heartwarming stories of mothers' love for their sons and daughters, there was no dearth of entertainment on this season. Many people counted down to each episode eagerly waiting to see what it would yield. Taruna Tewari and Jared Kissoon were the hosts for Season 2. Much laughter and merriment were generated on the celebration episodes and throughout as Jared sought to learn some dance moves and Taruna was wooed by the male contestants. The highpoint of the season arose when the wildcards entered the show to compete against the eight finalists. Wildcards are the trending feature of most reality TV shows

Winner - Savita Singh

First Runner Up -Vidya Ram

Second Runner Up Karamchand Sugrim

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Production and Technical crew from India and Guyana with Judges and Vishok Persaud

in India. When one of the wildcards Savita Singh of Trinidad and Tobago, the first non- Guyanese contestant, made it to the finals it generated extreme interest. She went on to win the competition competing fiercely against excellent performances by Kishan Sugrim of Canje, Berbice and Vidya Ram of Best Village, West Demerara, carrying off a trophy and 2 million Guyanese dollars. The runners up also received hefty cash awards and glittering trophies. Vishok Persaud, in an interview about the show, expressed his satisfaction with the quality the show had achieved and was particularly optimistic that with the training the large local crew had gained from the Indian experts, E-networks would be able to produce many more high quality and entertaining television shows. Emerging Voices, Season 3 will only be more eagerly anticipated after the exceptional standard set by Season 2. Rumour has it that it will be an international series hereon. We just have to wait and see‌.

Judges and Guest - KI Persaud

Emerging Voices Season 2 Participatants

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The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana

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Serving the Cause of Islam and Humanity

he Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) came into existence in July 1979 after receiving a mandate from a “Group of Concerned Brothers” who had become frustrated by the internal rivalry and hostility between the two factions of the United Sadr Islamic Anjuman. The political controversies which underpinned the problems within the community led to the creation of an organisation whose leaders do not hold public or political office. Their focus is to unify the Muslim community, educate Muslims about the requirements and obligations of their faith and more importantly disburse, in an equitable manner, to needy persons regardless of religious or political persuasion, the annual Zakaat which is incumbent on Muslims. The result is a not for profit NGO with a structure which allows for community participation. Guyana’s Muslim population worships in some 130 Masjids which is led by an Imaam. These Masjids are scattered in about eleven regions which do not necessarily correspond to the national regions but are concentrated in Georgetown, West Coast Demerara, East Coast Demerara and Berbice. They are therefore several Masjids in each region. The communities peripheral to and associated with the Masjids are called Jamaats. The CIOG is governed by a Central Executive Council which is elected/nominated each year by the Imams of the Masjids and a representative of each Jamaat who attend the AGM.

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In fact, prior to the AGM, ballots are sent to Masjids and Jamaats with the names for the President, Vice- President and Treasurer and the votes are tallied at the AGM. Other members are either appointed by the council or elected by delegates at the AGM. These include the heads and directors of the committees - medical, legal, education and Dawah, Zakaat and NACOSA. The organisation is financed by donations - both foreign and local - and by membership fees. Distributing the Zakaat collected, to the poor and needy is one of the very important responsibilities of the CIOG. Zakaat is the third of the five pillars of Islam which literally means “growth, increase, purity and righteousness. Technically it means to purify one’s possession of wealth by distributing a prescribed amount which has to be given to the poor. It has as its goal, to prevent wealth from circulating only among the rich. It is Fard (compulsory) on every sane Muslim, male or female past the age of puberty who completely owns the stipulated minimum of wealth (called Nisaab) free from any debts and owned the Nisaab one year ago. Zakaat is payable on money, gold and silver jewellery, ornaments and utensils, livestock, merchandise for trade and agricultural produce. It is NOT payable on one’s house, means of transportation, clothes and household effects once in personal use, personal books and tools. It is stated that among the benefits which accrue to


From L-R- Fazil Hack, Director of the CIOG, Shaikh Moen ul-Hack; Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said, President David Granger, CIOG President, Mr. Fazeel Ferouz, Mr. Nazim Baksh, Mr. Ustadh Nader Khan, and Mr. Kads Khan at the Ministry of the Presidency

giving Zakaat are - Gaining the pleasure of Allah, an increase in wealth, shelter on the day of judgement and it also contributes to longevity while not giving could lead to grievous penalties. The Nisaab is set annually. In 1998 it was $28,688, in 2001 it was $30,600. It is the responsibility of CIOG’s Zakaat committee to collect and distribute the sums collected. Starting with a very modest $20,000 a year in 1979 it reached a staggering $42.6 million in 2000. This was paid out to 1016 eligible, poor Muslims and several non-Muslims also for medical expenses, housing, victims of disaster, destitute persons and orphans. This increase is symptomatic of the increase in the poverty level in the society as a whole. It is reported that the numbers of recipients have increased significantly over the last twelve years. Regional representatives work with the Imaam and Jamaat to identify beneficiaries. An important complement to the distribution of the Zakaat to the needy is the sponsorship of Muslim orphans. They can either be sponsored by an individual or an organisation. The CIOG receives funds from Kuwait for its orphan sponsorship programme. Its responsibility for the distribution of Zakaat has ensured its involvement in the provision of other kinds of social welfare like the setting up of a senior citizens home for Muslim women, and this year, establishment of a housing committee to help shelter the homeless. This includes its sponsorship of medical outreach programmes and its participation in community development activities. An equally important mandate of the CIOG is education. In the early years, this was primarily religious education. To educate Muslims about their responsibilities, how to read the Holy Quran, the specific times for periods of fasting and to advise on day to day activities including business practices. To this end, links were developed with universities in Medina

and Damascus where young men were and are still sent for training. Over the last two decades, as standards slipped and functional illiteracy and the lack of skills increased especially among the youths, education has expanded to include secular and vocational education also. In 1994, the CIOG has had a scholarship programme with the Bank of Saudi Arabia to provide interest free loans to students to pursue studies at the University of Guyana. In 1997, the CIOG received a commitment from the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah to build four vocational schools which would offer courses similar to the ones offered at GTI. The first was established at Met-en-Meer-Zorg. Education and vocational training is the main objective of the CIOG’s women’s arm, NACOSA, the National Committee of Sisters’ Affairs. It is run by an executive committee which includes representatives from each of the ten regions of Guyana. Its motto is to work towards the upliftment of all Muslim women. Since its establishment in 1992 it has run several education, vocational and counselling programmes. The demand for this particular service has increased significantly over the years as the stress and strains of the society takes its toll even in the Muslim community which has significant support systems. NACOSA raises its own funds and has also received support from the BCCP. NACOSA’S dream of a Muslim school which took its first step in 1996, came to fruition with the opening of the $60M IBN SINA academy. While the changing times has caused the CIOG to expand its education programme to include secular and vocational education and training, its main focus is still to educate the Muslim community about Islam and its practices. (By Cecelia McAlmont, Stabroek News)

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National Festivals that Bridge Ethnic and Religious Divides Festivals contribute to the cultural tapestry of all countries; each festival brings with it a unique blend of customs and traditions and acts as a harbinger of goodwill, peace and fraternity. Perhaps this is best demonstrated in the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Phagwah. They have now morphed into festivals that are truly national and are celebrated across ethnic and religious divides.

Dharmic Holi Utsav Everest Ground

It’s Fun! It’s Colourful! It’s Phagwah!

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Photos by Amanda Richards and Javin Singh

oli or Phagwah as it is commonly called is an annual Hindu Festival of Colours celebrating the arrival of Spring. It is said to be the most joyous and colourful of festivals and today has become a part of our national psyche and is celebrated by all Guyanese. Holi celebrations start on Basant Panchmi. On this day, in keeping with tradition, homage is done to Saraswati Devi , the goddess of knowledge and a castor oil tree is planted as a symbolic act. From Basant Panchmi to Holi, melodies of chowtaal can be heard across the country at Hindu temples and homes. Holika Dahan or burning of the Holika (castor oil tree) takes place on Phalgun Purnima or the full moon day of the Hindu month Phalgun. It is the last day of the Hindu Calendar year. On this day, a pyre is built around the castor oil tree. This is ignited at the appropriate time as a symbolic act recalling the day when the sister of the tyrannical King Hiranyakashyapu, who had a boon which made her immune to the effect of fire, sought to have her own nephew Prahalad consumed in fire at the command of her evil brother, the King Hiranyakashyapu.

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Dharmic West Berbice Praant Holi Utsav

Prahalad however, escaped unscathed and Holika was reduced to ashes instead. This event symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. On this night throughout our country, chowtaal goles lead processions of not only Hindus but members of their communities to a chosen site where puja is done. It is in this manner Hindus usher in Phagwah or Holi. On Phagwah morning, a member of the Mandir would collect some of the ash and place it on the foreheads of Hindus; this represents renewal, hope and confidence in life. In Guyana, it is customary in the morning to see citizens wishing each other Happy Phagwah and spraying abeer from their water guns. The men from the Hindu communities will walk around their villages singing chowtaal while the women are usually at home preparing Indian delicacies such as gulaab jamoon, gojha, gul-gula, pholourie, etc. In the afternoon, everyone is usually dressed in white and carries around with them containers or bags filled with abrak, powder, perfumes and water guns filled with abeer. Hindus would visit their families to greet them and take delicacies and attend events organized by the various organizations across the nation. On passing these events, the many different colours can be seen on people and in the air. You can feel the


Dharmic Holi Utsav Everest Ground

happiness of the time reverberate through your entire being. The entertainment by live bands and the well choreographed dances add to the pomp of this joyous festivity where Guyanese of all walks of life celebrate and renew the spirit of goodwill, togetherness, love and unity! If you are visiting Guyana during Holi celebrations, join in the fun and enjoy the colourful and festive spirit.

Dharmic Holi Utsav Everest Ground

Dharmic Holi Utsav Everest Ground

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C

the Festival of Lights

enturies ago, Diwali was celebrated in the confines of the logies (primitive homes) in villages. Our forebears, the indentured immigrants strove to maintain their culture and religion with whatever limited facilities were available in those times. Diyas were lovingly crafted out of mud and the radiance given off from these little lights served as a beacon of hope to them as they toiled under the most horrendous conditions. Diwali, which literally means a row of lights, is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik. It is the darkest night of that month and is conducive to the twinkling lights that illuminate every nook and cranny. Worship of the goddess Maha Lakshmi is the main focus of Diwali. The aspirant performs Lakshmi puja and seeks her blessing for material and spiritual fulfilment. The festival encourages the participation of the entire family and it has long been the custom in Guyana for everyone in the home to gather in front of their Lakshmi murti at dusk chanting prayers and mantras before emerging to light their first diya. Prior to the day itself, the home and mandirs would be thoroughly cleaned and decorated in preparation for the Goddess of light, Maha Lakshmi. The ladies of the home would in recent times design elaborate rangolis ( coloured tracings on the floor) and be absorbed in making sweet delicacies for family and friends. At this time, the household would be sanctified as vegetarian fasts are the norm. Hindus would also abstain from alcohol. Over the last 3 decades the festival has gained prominence, and features on Guyana’s list of national holidays. Diwali has emerged from homes and mandirs and presently many commercial entities and public building are decorated with lights to welcome the goddess Maha Lakshmi. The trend of using electric lights has increased and more persons

are supplementing their diyas with these, creating an aesthetically appealing look that has passersby gasping in awe. Diyas are hardly made by individual householders, but those professionally made from clay can be purchased from stores and vendors. Novel innovations to the once simple mud diya filled with ghee and lit with a cotton wick include, wax filled diyas and electric diyas. The humble diya has certainly withstood generations and in spite of all the new- fangled techniques it still reminds the Hindu to rekindle that inner light within and to extend that light to all those he or she comes in contact with. The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha’s countrywide motorcades have become synonymous with the celebration of Diwali in Guyana. Thousands of Guyanese of every stratum of society and cultural belief throng the roads to witness the processions of beautifully decorated and illuminated vehicles depicting the theme of Diwali. In the olden days it wasn’t unusual to see horse-drawn carts gaily bedecked for the motorcade. With the advent of advanced technology, vehicles ranging from low-bed trucks to sleek cars are carefully designed with sophisticated lights and mobile parts. The Dharmic Sabha’s motorcades are major tourist attractions. Diwali in its many dimensions addresses questions which are not only philosophical, but also economic and social. Diwali threatens darkness in all its dimensions and influences the emergence of an illuminated society in which there exists understanding, respect, love and cordiality. Societies are built and sustained on foundations such as these. Festivals like Diwali serves to rekindle hope and expectation, and influence society in a positive direction. Diwali renews the spirit of optimism from which a new beginning can be constructed, based on equity and noble intentions. (Photos by Amanda Richards) Horizons 2017 -

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Chowtaal Samelan takes off in the USA

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he Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha initiative started some 40 years ago in Guyana has caught on in a massive way in New York. Hosted at the Prem Bhakti, Jamaica Queen’s Mandir by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha USA Praant, the 3rd Chowtaal Samelaan brought 18 chowtal gols together in a musical feast as America prepared to observe Holi 2017. The large congregation was thrilled to hear various melodies of spring being rendered by large groups or gols from various mandirs and cultural organizations in New York. Outfitted beautifully, singing lustily to the beats of

Dancer - Khavita Singh with Dave Thakoordeen and Anil Bedasie

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the dholak and the clash of the jhaal, the groups created a vibrant atmosphere and definitely made it feel like Phagwah. Many could be heard saying nostalgically that it felt like home (Guyana) and they didn’t hesitate to sing, clap or spontaneously burst into dance. The programme was chaired by Anil Bedasie and Deepa Sitaram of the USA Praant. What was extremely admirable, were the groups which comprised primarily of young people, the Sanataan Dharma Mandir of NY, the Kal Ka Roshni Youth group and the Queens Hindu Mandir Youth group with its 11 year old female dholak player. The program also featured dances including a beautiful Kuchipudi invocation done by Praant member , Khavita Singh. Bhajans and Holi songs also added to the occasion. Chowtaal is a style that has survived after being brought to Guyana decades ago. It is sung with persons sitting in the traditional manner, facing each other with the dholak player as the nexus. Berbice is noted for the addition of tassa and the “sawal /jawab or question/ answer” segments. The tempo varies based on the melody or raaga ; dhamar, jati, ulaara, kabira, chowtaal etc. The lyrics are a blend of Hindi and Bhojpuri and espouse the glories of spring, pastimes of Lord Krishna and can even relate local tales. Chowtaal is sung during


the Phagwah season, from Vasant Panchmi to Burwha Mangar. Chowtaal Samelan is an annual event held countrywide in all of the Praants of the Dharmic Sabha in Guyana and provides the opportunity for many gols to converge at a single venue in the community to sing the melodies brought centuries ago by their Indian ancestors. The objective of the USA Praant is to continue this tradition by hosting the gols from the mandirs in the Tri-State area.

The USA Praant’s Chairman Dave Thakoordeen, a cultural advocate, said the idea behind the Samelan is to promote and sustain the art form in America. He emphasized that it was a creative way to involve youth in their culture. Chowtaal has many verses from the scriptures, so by learning chowtaal, they learn the scripture indirectly, says Dave. He was thrilled with the event and was confident that it would grow and encourage the formation of more gols in America.

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Contentment and a mild spirit…

Seven Decades Together By Bibi Khatoon

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The story of Bhola and Liloutie

t is not your fairytale love story of a princess being swept off of her feet to a castle and a place of eternal happiness. Their story is one grounded in reality and an awareness that to be successful, a marriage must be nurtured and the vows should be treated as sacred and be upheld. And so over the past 71 years, Liloutie and Bhola have demonstrated what it means to stick to a commitment, even if it was made out of an arrangement. When they met to walk around the sacred fire of Hindu marriage ceremonies on May 04, 1946, it was only the second time they were seeing each other. Theirs was an arranged marriage, which was once a common culture practiced by Indian families; it still happens today, on a very limited scale. Their marriage was decided on by Bhola’s father, who was familiar with Liloutie’s family. They were well reported on by others, and so, at one wedding house, the plans were hatched for the couple to get married. Good thing, Bhola’s father acted quickly; her hand in marriage was being solicited by many others. Liloutie was born and raised in Kitty, Georgetown while Bhola was born at Metem-meer-zorg on the West Coast of Demerara and grew up between that village and Plaisance on

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the East Coast of Demerara with an elderly relative. Being 22 years old at the time, Bhola said he wasn’t ready for marriage, but he had to just go along with what was being planned. But once he set eyes on the beautiful Liloutie, that was it! No complaints! Liloutie was just 18 years old at the time, but that was no surprise. It was customary for girls to be married off at an early age. Theirs was a “big” wedding, complete with “fireworks.” The rituals took place at night, something very uncommon for our time; it was the ideal traditional wedding where the families are required to meet halfway from each other’s homes. “As they come, they call this thing Milap (Hast-Milap is literally the meeting of hands of the relatives from both families),” Liloutie recalled. After the meeting, there was the Kanyadaan (the father giving away the daughter to the groom). The morning after the wedding, there was a ceremony where gifts were given and the family enjoyed a meal of Kitchri and the bride was taken to her husband’s home. That was followed by the traditional Kangan on the Monday. After years, Mr. Maraj still smiles broadly when he tells the story of falling in love and making Liloutie his wife and the


mother of his children. The young couple started their life together in a Logie (a mud house) where Liloutie became a housewife while her husband worked on the sugar estate. At 18 years old, Mrs. Maraj was new to life in a Logie and some things she didn’t find pleasing but later learned to cope with. Liloutie later became known by many as Aunty Baby. They spent five years in the logie, during which they had three children. Later, Bhola secured a job at the Palms Geriatric Home and the family would moved to Delph Street, Campbellville, where they had another seven children bringing the total to ten, with an even number of boys and girls. The eldest is today 69 years old while the youngest is just in his late forties. The two explained that the journey has not been an easy road but with support and love, it has grown into something beautiful and has offered them a lifetime of happiness. Bhola’s penchant for hard work to support his family is what his wife still admires most. She is proud of the fact that he did whatever work he could find in order to bring up his family. Bhola is a man of few words, but when it comes to compliments, he readily talks about his wife’s dancing, and she knows he enjoys it when she does. One of their biggest accomplishments is living life on their own terms. In Guyanese Creole refrain, they explained that they lived life to suit themselves, a life that was based on quiet contentment, and for Mr Bhola, now 93, he knows that what has kept the marriage is him knowing when to speak and when to shut up; he was not one to return the favour when Liloutie,

Bhola and Liloutie on their wedding day

now 89, bursts into quarrelling over this or that. He noted too that a lot of men use alcohol and then allow the substance to lead to bad behavior, but that was not the case with him. It is both their view that more marriages can last as long as theirs with the right amount of love, compromise and commitment. While some of their children reside in other parts of the country and overseas, the elderly couple is cared for by one of their daughters. The couple has 23 grand children and six great grandchildren, and visits from them add joy to their lives, as they look back at a satisfying life.

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A

Indian Arrival Monument for Palymyra, Berbice

monument commemorating the arrival of East Indians to Guyana will soon be unveiled in the village of Palymyra in Berbice. The project is being done by the Indian government. It was at Plantation Highbury, also in Berbice, where, on May 5, 1838, the first batch of immigrant Indians arrived in the then British Guiana as Indentured labourers. The $35M bronze-sculpted monument will decorate a oneacre plot of land at the ‘T Junction’ at Palmyra Village, just off the eastern end of the Berbice River Bridge. Several years ago, the Ministry of Education started negotiations with the public and private sectors, NGO’s and other agencies to design and build monuments to coincide with the observance of Guyana’s 250th Emancipation and the 175th anniversary of Indian arrival in Guyana. Of the two monuments, the 1823 Monument has already been commissioned and is enjoyed by many. The Indian monument is made of six figures (four adults and two children). It was designed by Philbert Gajadar and Winslow Craig and constructed by the Indian Government. The 12’x12’ monument is sculpted in bronze and describes the lives of ordinary Indian people in their routine everyday

life with each carrying something of importance - their jahaji bhandal (ship bundle) loaded with food, spices, herbs, clothing, jewellery, their gods, religious texts, drum, karaahi (cooking pan) tawa (flat circular metal for cooking roti), grass knives (scythe), cutlass and rice plants. The figures are presented in a straightforward realism with the human factor ever present.

The Indian Monument Gardens

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he Indian Monument Gardens, at the corner of Church and Camp Street, Georgetown commemorates the first indentured Indians who arrived in then British Guiana on 5th May 1838. It is the most noted monument in Guyana celebrating the arrival of East Indians to these shores. It was established following a meeting in August 1987 among Yesu Persaud, Lloyd Searwar, Roy Prasad, Ishmael Bacchus, Fazia Bacchus, Ronald Ali, Hemraj Kissoon, Pat Dial, Dr. Sukdeo, Iris Sukdeo and Ayube Hamid to discuss the 150th Anniversary of the Arrival of Indians in Guyana which was to be celebrated on 5th May 1988. It was unanimously agreed that the one person who had the ability to get persons to work together and to get all the groups to come together was Yesu Persaud. He was duly appointed Chairman of the 150th Anniversary Committee. In May 1988, during the visit of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, Vice President of India, to celebrate 150 years of Indian Arrival in Guyana, Mr. Yesu Persaud, the Chairman of the group had a private discussion with him and informed him that the Committee wanted to build a monument to commemorate the arrival of East Indians in Guyana and he promised that the ICCR will do whatever they can to help us. After looking around for a while, the then Mayor Compton Young was approached and the site was allocated. A contest was held countrywide seeking drawings or sketches what the monument should look like and most of these had the concept

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of sailing ships. The Committee chose the winning entry which was a ship that looked like the “Whitby”. An architect from India came and worked closely with local architect Albert Rodrigues and a plan of what the garden should look was mapped. The ship builder also came to Guyana and returned to India to construct the ship. The architect and ship builder returned to Guyana when the ship arrived to help in the setting up of the Monument. The Indian Anniversary Committee was converted into a “Trust”. An open air museum was recently opened at the site, which hosts regular functions to celebrate various holidays.


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Celebrating the Achievements of Mahatma Gandhi

monument to great Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi is situated in the Promenade Gardens in Georgetown. The sculpture dedicated to the outstanding public and political figure, philosopher and leader of the national liberation movement of the people of India. The monument was set up in 1969 and events are held at the site annually. President David Granger, Chief Guest at a recent event said that the Mahatma’s message remains relevant even today on the local shores. “The Mahatma was a preeminent, political and spiritual leader in India. He celebrated the most important role in India’s independence movement. The Mahatma developed a technique of non-violent agitation, which he called Satyagraha. He is known for his non-violent civil disobedience in India and also in South Africa. ” Notably, the Head of State said, is the fact that Guyana is a beneficiary of many of Gandhi’s efforts. “His activities include the initiation of the non-cooperation movement in 1922, the ‘Satyagraha’ assault march which started on March 12, 1930. These are important milestones in the independence of India, one of the pioneers of the post wars independence movement, of which Guyana itself is a beneficiary,” he said. India’s High Commissioner, Venkatachalam Mahalingam, said, “Gandhi who is considered to be the father of the Indian nation, no longer belongs only to India… he belongs to the entire humanity and the world.,His values have become more relevant for today’s society, which is infested with regional racial and religious intolerance; giving rise to violence, terrorism and war.” The High Commissioner added that the Mahatma was against the idea of “an eye for an eye” as his policy for nonviolence has influenced many international movements to this day. Noting that the Mahatma’s birthday is observed by all Guyanese, especially the descendants of the nearly 240,000 persons of Indian origin who came to Guyana from the subcontinent as indentured immigrant labourers, Granger dubbed Mahatma Gandhi “the pre-eminent political and spiritual leader in India.”

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Giant Hanuman Murti at Leguan

giant murti of the Hindu deity Hanuman was unveiled on the Essequibo Island of Leguan during late 2016. The statue stands at a height of 52 feet and is said to be the tallest in Guyana. Then Minister of Social Cohesion Amna Ally was the chief guest at the unveiling ceremony and noted that the murti embodies the living presence of the deity. “It is more than a physical representation or a meditation tool. When an image like this is prepared according to spiritual prescriptions and is ritually infused by a spiritual authority, according to your beliefs, it becomes especially worthy of and conducive to worship,” she said. Pandit Sunil Sharma said that he was extremely grateful for the contributions made by the community and members of the Mandir towards the construction of the murti. Pandit Sharma said that the structure, which cost over G$5 million took approximately two years to be completed. Horizons 2017 -

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The Queenstown Jama Masjid

fter being in existence for over 100 years, the Masjid, which is located on Church Street, was demolished on February 10, 2007, making way for one of the most modern places of worship in Guyana. The Queenstown Jama Masjid was the first Muslim place of worship to be built in Georgetown, back in 1895. Before the previous building was demolished, there were calls for it to be preserved as a part of the country’s architectural heritage. The newly-constructed mosque officially opened its doors for worship on July 7, 2013, even though it was not yet completed with all the intended facilities. It was originally estimated to cost US$2M to complete. Funds for the construction of the mosque were donated by the Muslim community of Guyana and overseas as well. It was intended that the mosque would have the capacity to accommodate approximately 1,000 persons. The two-storey building is 120 feet by 80 feet. Males and females worship separately and so the ground floor is used by men, while the top floor is used by women. The original Queenstown mosque was one of the first to be built by Muslims in Guyana. It would have been difficult to maintain the old structure since the lumber had started to rot and it was also infected with termites (wood ants). In addition, a bigger mosque was needed since the previous structure could not cater for the rapid growth of the Muslim community. The Queenstown Jama Masjid was founded by the Afghan community.

"The Jamaat compromised Muslims from India and Afghanistan; the latter apparently arrived in this country via India" (Centennial Magazine: 9). Ayube Khan writes, " Afghan and Indian Muslims living in this area laid the foundation for the Masjid" (Centennial: 31). A Muslim, Badrudeen Yankana, a grandson of Goolam-uddin reported that the land where the Masjid was built was purchased by his grand father, who was an Afghan butcher and cab driver" (Centennial: 31).

Hare Krishna Study Centre (ISKCON)

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he Hare Krishna Study Centre (HKSC), the largest temple in Guyana is an impressive sight as one heads to the University of Guyana along the Embankment Road, East Coast Demerara. It was opened on the 13th July 2016 on exact day of the incorporation of ISKCON 50 years ago. At 140 feet it is the tallest temple in Guyana, and the largest ISKCON center in South America. An elaborate 5-day event preceded the opening, including, Shravanam and Kirtanam festivals, Srila Prabhupada Thanksgiving day, a Rathyatra parade and a Kirtan Mela. The spacious temple hall accommodates over 300 people. It hosts the only vegetarian restaurant in the country, a gift shop, a cultural hall, a mega-kitchen, conference rooms, a Vedic library, deluxe guest rooms, residential ashram facilities for monks, and dormitories for students. “In a nutshell, the vision is to create a complete Vedic cultural and spiritual house under one roof with workshops, philosophy, lectures, chanting, yoga, meditation, art, music, cuisine, ancient spiritual traditions, personality development, character building, counselling and God consciousness,” states Prabhupad Dev Das, President of ISKCON Georgetown. “Our aim is to promote social harmony through the promotion of spiritual education, high moral values and strong personal development.”

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T

Enmore Martyrs Monument

he Enmore Martyrs’ Monument was unveiled on June 16, 1977, almost 30 years after the tragedy, to honour the deaths of five labourers killed by colonial police while protesting the social conditions on the East Coast plantations in 1948. Designed by Guyanese artist Dennis Williams, the monument stands raised on a concrete base six feet high with five repetitive verticals each adorned with brass symbols reminiscent of cutlasses and inscribed with the names of the five martyrs. There is also a plaque designed by another Guyanese, Stanley Greaves. The five heroic sugar workers, Rambarran, Pooran, Lallabagee, Surajballi and Harry, were killed during a massive working class protest against the social and economic conditions on the East Coast sugar estates. The incident started April 22, 1948 with approximately 1200 labourers drawn from plantations Enmore, Non Pariel, Lusignan, Mon Repos, La Bonne Intention, Vryheids Lust and Ogle. At first, estate authorities were not particularly troubled by the strike action as they had grown accustomed to such protests actions. They simply recruited scabs from as far away as Rose Hall on the Canje Creek, in Berbice and from the Essequibo Coast who performed the duties of the striking cane cutters. But because production continued to be erratic, the Sugar Producers’ Association adopted new draconian measures to force the striking workers back to the fields. The workers remained defiant and the strike dragged on. On June 5, 1948, the striking workers staged a massive street demonstration in Georgetown. The evening of June 15, 1948, saw a flurry of activity as the striking workers were determined to bring the issues to a head. Both estate management and the police were just as determined to see the end of the strike, and on June 16 the police opened fire on the workers, killing five and injuring several others. The martyrdom of the five was recognized at the Continental Conference of the national affiliates of the World Peace

Council, which met in Bogota, Columbia during June 4-7, 1976. (National Trust of Guyana)

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Saada Roti & Baigan Choka

By Kumar Kissoon

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National Medley of Traditional Dishes

hen our foreparents arrived in 1838, they brought their mores that currently constitutes a significant part of our Guyanese culture. Guyanese culture is a melting pot that reflects the contribution of the multi-ethnic composition of our population; food, fashion, music, dance ‌ Food is a colossal part of our culture that is recognized throughout the Caribbean and even in North America- the flavors of the fresh herbs, vegetables, seafood and poultry combined with the multicultural culinary skills are the attributes of savory Guyanese food. From the early days, there existed a love affair with food. Food was a major part of the indentured laborer’s culture that was adopted into the Guyanese identity. In almost every Guyanese home, you will find the aromas of flavorsome Indian food lingering and if it is not made at home, the spicy quest can be met by visiting a simple cook shop or a fine dining restaurant to indulge in a variety of appetizing Indian food. Variety? Oh yea! The spread of scrumptiousness vary from simple snacks such as pholourie, bara, baigani, potato/cassava balls or channa to a full course wedding meal of seven curries with hot dhal and rice along with a dessert of kheer (sweet rice). The list of traditional Indian dishes that our fore-parents brought between the periods of 1838-1917 is an extensive one, the mainstream dishes are: Kitchree- A mouthful of nutrients in every bite, this is one of the good-tasting healthy options available. The combination of pot of boiled peas, rice and vegetables Choka- A unique dish of mashed eggplant, potato, tomato, avocado or coconut garnished with hot oil containing spicy ingredients particularly garlic that gives a zingy munch.

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Roti- A soft and crusty flat bread that complements vegetables or curry. There are many types of roti, made by simply adding a filling of potato, dhal, sugar or adding a layer of butter, cheese or garlic. Daal- More of a soup like dish that is made by boiling the dhal (lentil) in water with seasoning, salt and other spices. It is then finished by garnishing with fired garlic and geera. Like every other dish, there is also an array of daal; Kadhi is the most popular one. Curry- A mixture of masala, curry powder, other spices and herbs deep fired in hot oil (chunkay) after which seafood or poultry, either alone or in combination with vegetables is simmered. Many are entirely vegetarian, eaten particularly among those who hold ethical or religious interdictions against eating meat or seafood. It is common to attend Mandir and indulge in a feast of curries as opposed t o vegetable chowmein as this shows the strong correlation to the Hindu traditions. Kheer/Sweet Rice- commonly called rice pudding around the world. is a delectable dessert made by boiling rice in milk with an assortment of spices and sweeteners. Mitai- flour, milk, spices and other flavoring agents mixed into dough, rolled out and cut out into various shapes then fried and coated in sugar. A popular treat at wedding festivities.


Mitai

Prasad- one of the main offerings used in Hindu religious services is made by parching flour in hot ghee and adding milk with sugar. Pera/Fudge- this milk treat is possibly one of the simplest sweet meats to prepare; boil sugar and milk together until the mixture becomes sticky and then roll/cut out into different shapes. Pholourie- A yummy deep fried snack made from a combination of ground peas, flour and seasonings. Potato balls, Baigani, Bara and Pakoda are also daily treats for many around the country, these are made from the same pholourie batter but with the addition of various vegetables. Chutney- Indian food is known for its fiery taste, but if you crave a more flaming effect you can add Chutney /Achar, as it complements many Indian foods with its unique blend of ingredients. This a flavorful sauce made with a variety of pureed fruits, chunks of pepper and spices. Curry, Daal & Roti are the most well-liked dishes of them all; the spiciness of the curry along with the soft tasty roti and tangy daal makes the combo irresistible! Roti and curry are eaten on a daily basis and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a standard diet for most Guyanese, supplying a large fraction of the needs for energy-rich materials. Roti demand has led to the introduction of “roti mix” by the National Milling Company of Guyana, making it easier for the average Guyanese to enjoy a hot roti every day. Similarly curry prominence has created a spice market in Guyana with several manufacturers, importers and retailers of curry powder, masala and other seasonings. Adding to the commercial enterprise of curry is the various curry competitions held across the country that attracts thousands of patrons and participants showing their culinary skills. There is a popular saying “don’t worry you can’t make everyone happy, you are not curry”. Like many of my Guyanese

Seven Curry

brothers and sisters, I strongly believe in this quote. While the traditional dishes are enshrined in our national menu, there has been has been an influx of new authentic Indian dishes being introduced to Guyana. Samosa, Gulaab Jamun, Biryani rice, mattar paneer and many more mouthwatering dishes are rapidly wending their way into many homes and restaurants across Guyana. This introduction is credited to the cookery classes offered by the Mahila Mandalee, the women’s arm of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha. The Mandalee recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and its women are well known for their proficiency in Indian Cookery. Like many others, I was first introduced to many different Indian dishes through the Mahila Mandalee. For many years foodies would crowd any food stall of the Mandalee to get a taste of many lip smacking new dishes, as this was the only way to try these dishes. However over the years the demand has grown, leading to the establishment of authentic Indian restaurants in Guyana. On Sheriff Street you will find Maharaja Palace and Aagman, two authentic Indian restaurants operated by expert chefs from India offering up an array of delicious naan, curries, sweet meats etc. Our food industry continues to grow, with food tourism now being explored since Guyanese food is one of the many assets that is treasured and shared to many who come to our great land seeking that true Guyanese hospitality. It is expected that in the future we will see many more Indian restaurants and new Indian dishes being added to our national menu. So whether you enjoy a plate of daal, rice, fried okra and coconut choka or naan with mattar paneer, you are indulging in a piece of our national menu-a menu that prides itself on illustrating our rich diverse heritage. Kheer/Sweet Rice

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Movers & Shakers

of East Indian Descent in Guyana

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rom humble origins they rose to stride the corridors of power and stamp their presence indelibly in history. The chronicles of these diverse personalities descended from East Indian Immigrant ancestors with the commonality of their struggles, perseverance and their love for Guyana would fill volumes, and this minute illustration of highlights of their lives cannot begin to capture the magnitude of these influential men who were part of 17 decades of change and history.

Father of the Nation

Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan

D

r Cheddi B. Jagan was pivotal to Guyana’s freedom, our independence and the shaping of politics in Guyana. The author of Forbidden Freedom (1954) and The West on Trial (1966) was born on March 22, 1918 on the sugar plantation of Port Mourant, Berbice, in British Guiana. His parents Bachoni (mother) and Jagan (father) had arrived in the then British Guiana as young infants with their mothers from the district of Basti in Uttar Pradesh, India. Both his grandmothers came as indentured immigrants in 1901 and were "bound" by five year contracts to different sugar plantations in the county of Berbice. His mother never went to school, but his father was a bit more fortunate, attending school for three years. Because his father worked very hard, he earned the reputation of being the best canecutter and was promoted to "driver." But still his pay was very small and because he was non-white there was no further avenue of promotion. He thus saw the need for formal education, and made sure that his son, Cheddi Jagan attended school.

1948...Dr. Cheddi Jagan speaking at the funeral of the Enmore Martyrs canecutters who give their lives for freedom.

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Former President of Guyana Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan

Dr. Jagan attended Queen’s College, the best boys school in British Guiana, in the city of Georgetown. Trying to find a job after graduating high school, became almost impossible. The civil service was closed, to be a school teacher you had to become a Christian, something that his Hindu parents would have none of, and his father could not bear the thought of him working on the plantation. Finally his father decided to send him to the United States to study dentistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C. But he was not satisfied to become only a dentist, he wanted to find to find out more about things going on in the world and enrolled in classes in social sciences. When he graduated from Northwestern University in 1942 with his degree in Dental Surgery (DDS), he also received his Bachelor of Sciences (B.Sc.) degree. In the U.S., he met Janet Rosenberg, a student nurse and on August 5th 1943, they married before returning to Guyana in October 1943. After returning home, Dr. Jagan started his dental practice. The dental practice became a hive of activities and through it he made many important contact, many patients being ordinary rural and urban workers.s


Dr. Cheddi B. Jagan, Mrs Janet Jagan and their two children

Cheddi’s name began to spread in the sugar belt –coming from a sugar estate and as well a doctor who listened to ordinary people. On many occasions he would be invited by workers to speak and advise them on industrial matters in various parts of the sugar belt. Due to his increased contacts with workers, he became involved in the two trade unions in the sugar industry, one of them being the ManPower Citizen’s Association. In 1945 he became treasurer of that union, but was removed after a year when he objected to the glaring reluctance of the union to defend the interests of the sugar workers. It was, he discovered, a company union. In 1947, Dr. Jagan formally entered the political arena. Influenced by the poor working conditions of the sugar workers and their impoverished lifestyle, Dr. Jagan resolved to lift his people out of their misery and dedicated his energies and most of his adult life to achieving this- he marched, led strikes, was arrested but remained an indomitable force in his stance against injustice. Three years later, in 1950, he created the People's Progressive Party (PPP). In 1953, the PPP won the first elections held under universal suffrage; however, Britain suspended the constitution, citing the PPP's pro-communist stance. Between 1953 and 1957, there was a split in the PPP ranks, Dr. Jagan remained as leader of the PPP. Mr. Forbes Burnham formed a new party; the Peoples National Congress (PNC). The PPP won the 1957 and 1961 elections. In the 1964 election Dr. Jagan and the PPP won by majority of votes cast, however, under the system of proportional representation, the government was formed by a coalition comprising the PNC, led by Burnham and the United Force (UF), led by businessman, Peter D’Aguiar. The following 28 years saw

Dr. Jagan as Opposition Leader in Parliament continuing the fight for democracy and rights of Guyanese. Finally in 1992, under the scrutiny of international observers from the Council of Freely-Elected Heads of Government, led by President Carter, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), Dr. Jagan and the PPP won and he reclaimed the Presidency of the Republic of Guyana. Historian Dr Tota Mangar wrote that while some did not understand his ideological message they all understood and respected his honesty, sincerity, integrity, humility and abiding concern for the needy and oppressed. In his later years, Mangar notes, Dr. Jagan was in the forefront of the just call for a New Global Human Order and debt relief where poverty stricken Third World countries are concerned. It was his conviction that "massive poverty is hindering the path to sustainable human development" and he further stressed that "economic growth is necessary for human development just as much as human development is essential for economic growth". Dr Jagan remained President until his death on March 06, 1997, leaving behind his wife, two children, grandchildren and an entire nation to mourn the loss of a man who was a freedom fighter, strategist, friend of the people, and indeed, a beloved son of Guyana’s soil. Wrote Mangar: “Dr. Jagan is widely regarded as the Father of Our Nation. He moulded our political consciousness from the late colonial period. His life was one of unswerving dedication to the Guyanese people. In the face of grave difficulties he championed the cause of national unity, social justice and economic development.”

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Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo

Building a resilient Economy and Championing Climate Change

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r. Jagdeo hails from Unity Village; East Coast of Demerara where he was born on January 23rd, 1964. He served as an economist in the State Planning Secretariat after he returned with his degree in Economics, from Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow in 1990. When the PPP took office in 1992, he became Special Advisor to the Minister of Finance, was appointed as Junior Minister of Finance in October 1993 and then Senior Minister of Finance in May 1995. After the death of President Cheddi Jagan in 1997, his wife, Janet Jagan, was elected president in elections held later that year. The PNC disputed the results of the elections, however, and many demonstrations and protests ensued. Janet Jagan stepped down in 1999, attributing her resignation to ill health. Jagdeo was appointed president and was re-elected in 2001 and again in 2006. After a crime wave, stemming from a prison break and a devastating flood in 2005, prospects under Jagdeo brightened in September 2007 when a United Nations international tribunal settled a long-standing maritime boundary dispute

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between Guyana and Suriname by granting Guyana the farlarger share of the Guyana-Suriname Basin in contention. A new boundary was drawn, and soon afterward offshore oil exploration was begun there. Jagdeo signed a trade agreement with the European Union in 2008; he hoped to increase economic stability and strengthen international relations. Guyana continued to struggle with


President Bharrat Jagdeo during a visit to India in 2011 President Bharrat Jagdeo accepted his 2010 Champions of the Earth plaque, created from recycled metal and glass by Kenyan-based artist R.K Pachauri, as “one of perhaps half a dozen Heads of Robert Warren, from UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner during the Government who truly understands the issue”. Jagdeo’s goal was to turn Guyana into one of the world's 2010 Champions of the Earth award ceremony in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

United States President Barack Obama with Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo

violent crime, and episodic political unrest, but the economy improved, as the government invested in the agriculture and forestry sectors, in offshore oil exploration, and in new roads and bridges. Unprecedented investment in social services took place during the Jagdeo Presidency, enabling significantly improved access to education, rehabilitation of the health system and the biggest expansion of the housing sector in Guyana’s history. Dr. Jagdeo served as elected Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank from September 2005 to September 2006. Under Bharrat Jagdeo, Guyana’s debt burden was slashed and economic growth was consistent year after year. In 2003, in his role as Lead Head of Government for Agriculture in the Caribbean Community, Jagdeo spearheaded a process (known as the "Jagdeo Initiative") to create a more competitive and sustainable agricultural sector in the region by 2015. He worked towards strengthening alliances with other countries and in his final term as President, Dr. Jagdeo became a global advocate for international action to avert the worst extremes of climate change, and was described by the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,

most environmentally progressive countries by preserving vast swaths of tropical rain forest -- if rich nations pay for it. As part of building this global model, Norway partnered with Guyana to provide up to US$250 million, by 2015, for avoided greenhouse gas emissions from Guyana's forest. In 2010, Jagdeo received the “Champion of the Earth” award from the United Nations Environment Programme after he gained international recognition for his position on environmental issues within his country and on the global scale. UNEP noted that as the President of a country with 40 million acres of untouched rainforest, Mr. Jagdeo had been working on inviting donors and investors to pay for the protection of the forests through the sale of carbon credits, or investments in eco-tourism and pharmaceutical discoveries. He has been conferred with honorary doctorates of the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, TERI University, the University of Central Lancashire and Trent University. Dr. Jagdeo was awarded the Pushkin Medal by the Government of Russia, and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by the Government of India. In April 2013, he was conferred with the highest honour of the State of Roraima, Brazil, the Order of Merit 'Forte Sao Joaquim'. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University (New York City, USA), York University (Toronto, Canada), Trent University (Peterborough, Canada), the University of Toronto, United Nations University (Tokyo, Japan), and the University of the West Indies. He has also taken part in Trent University's Carbon Conversation, focusing on the need to de-carbonize the global economy. Dr. Jagdeo was included on the list of 32 MPs when the PPP lost the election in 2015. He was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly on 17 August 2015. His contributions towards the development and progress of Guyana cannot be discounted. At a young age, he stands out, was an evolutionary figure for Guyana and influenced our image at home and abroad. Horizons 2017 -

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Donald Ramotar A Long Serving Politician and Former President

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political heavyweight buoyed by the Peoples Progressive Party’s stellar record of economic and social recovery of two decades, Donald Ramotar led the PPP to its fifth consecutive win at the polls in November 2011 and he became President of Guyana. Ramotar’s transition to become General Secretary of the PPP, with the death of the party’s founder President Cheddi Jagan in 1997, was not an easy task, and neither was his selection to be the Presidential Candidate of his party. Ramotar is no ordinary politician, having spent five decades in the PPP. You could almost say he was born a politician, with the PPP running through his veins. Ramotar, whose middle name is Rabindranauth, was born at Caria Caria, a community along the Essequibo River that was supposedly first inhabited by the Amerindians but saw the infiltration of African slaves. It is believed to have once been a cotton plantation. Ramotar’s father, Sam Ramotar, had moved to the village to help his brother run a timber grant and shop that served the community. There, the senior Ramotar fell in love with Olive Constantine, whose parents were of African and Amerindian lineage. Donald was born to Sam and Olive Ramotar on October 22, 1950, the same year that the PPP was formed as the first massbased political party in British Guiana, with Dr Cheddi Jagan, his American-born wife Janet, and the charismatic Forbes Burnham at the helm. Ramotar’s father loved politics and would tune his radio to the BBC to follow developments around the world. In 1955, the PPP split along ethnic lines, with Jagan attracting mass support of East Indians and Burnham, Africans.

Ramotar, second from right, in 1974, as a delegate of the Progressive Youth Organisation to an event held in German Democratic Republic, which now makes up Germany.

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Former President Donald Ramotar

Ramotar’s father was a staunch supporter of the PPP under Jagan, and in time, as he attended the Caria Caria Congregational School, the Jagans and other heavyweights like Boysie Ramkarran and Brindley Benn, stayed at their home and kept political meetings. The young Ramotar started campaigning for the PPP in 1964, when he was yet still too young to vote, distributing leaflets and other paraphernalia for the PPP around Caria Caria and on the Essequibo Islands with his father. When it became apparent to his father that proper schooling would be a problem at Caria Caria, Ramotar was sent to live with his friends Harry Hansraj and Alma Perreira in Georgetown. As a result, Donald Ramotar grew up in Princes Street, Wortmanville, and attended St Andrews Kirk, located opposite the Parliament Buildings. After completing high school, Ramotar moved on to the Government Technical Institute (GTI). It was there that he took note of Deolatchmee, a girl from Huist T’Dieren. He tried to “tackle” the beautiful lass, who was studying “commercial” at the institute, but she “played basgar,” shrugging off his amorous intentions. By this time, Ramotar had already joined the PPP. Ramotar campaigned for the PPP in the local government elections of 1970, and served as polling agent for the party even though he was not yet 21 and therefore not eligible to vote. Later, Ramotar participated in educational programmes of the party and was sent to the Soviet Union in 1972-1973 to study political science. When he returned to Guyana, he got involved in party work. It was a trip to Bartica on PPP business that made him come into contact again with the young woman he was attracted to at the GTI. He met Deolatchmee on the ferry back from Bartica and the two of them later struck up a serious relationship. They duly


got married in 1974. Their union produced two boys – Alexei and Alvaro – and a girl, Lisaveta, named for a character in an Alexander Puskin novel he had read. As time passed, Ramotar moved up in the ranks of the PPP by sheer recognition of the fact that he worked tirelessly on the ground. Between 1966 and 1975 he worked at GIMPEX, the commercial arm of the PPP. In 1975 he was appointed Manager of Freedom House, a position that he held for eight years. From 1983 to 1988, he served as a member of the Editorial Council of the magazine ‘Problems of Peace and Socialism’ and as the International Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) between 1988 and 1993. Ramotar has been in the leadership of the party since 1979 when he was elected to the President Donald Ramotar (second from left) and First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar Central Committee. He became a member of (second from right) with Maharashtra’s Governor, Vidyasagar Rao (centre), and his the Executive Committee of the PPP in 1983 and wife Vinoda (left), and Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan. (GINA photo). Mr Ramotar assumed the position of Executive Secretary of visited Maharastra in January 2015 the party one year after the PPP was restored to anywhere else than managing the affairs of Freedom House. office in 1992. He has represented the party on numerous occasions He has personal reasons for not accepting a job in the PPP overseas and published a number of articles and is a regular government after those historic 1992 elections – an election columnist for the Mirror newspaper. that, for Ramotar, was a roller-coaster. When he became President in November, 2011, Ramotar When the elections were held in 1997 and he became gave up the position of General Secretary of the PPP. General Secretary during one of the testiest periods in the The PPP lost the elections in May, 2015, and though not in country’s political life – when Dr Jagan’s American-born widow Parliament, Ramotar serves in the highest decision making ran for the presidency – no one thought of posting Ramotar body of the PPP and continues his political activism.

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With wife Sita at the World Conference of Chief Justices, India

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

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From Journalist to Prime Minister

t is not about the next election, but the progression of our next generation.” This has always been the mantra of a determined young man who grew up in the bountiful lands of Whim Village, Corentyne Berbice. Today, Moses Veerasammy Nagamootoo stands as Guyana’s Prime Minister and the reality of his motto could not be more alive. During the 2015 General and Regional Election campaign, Nagamootoo travelled all across the nation, inspiring as many as he could to embrace a new era, a new time, a new breed of politicians. He invited the nation to welcome a new type of politics: the kind that despises self-aggrandizement and rewards those caught in corruption with deserving penalties. Politics, for this feisty and well-respected orator, is not a one way ticket to wealth but a platform for transforming lives, making a real difference and fostering national unity. Nagamootoo has fought untiringly for the place he stands in today. And if one were to trace back to when he was 14, the time when he first entered politics, every decision he has made since then would prove that he was not only preparing for this post all his life but was perhaps, destined for it. Nagamootoo was born on November 30, 1947, to Gangama (Chunoo) and Nagamootoo Ramaswamy (Mootoo), both of whom are deceased. He recalled his parents to be amorous, humble and dedicated workers. Leading a humble life back then, Nagamootoo’s parents enrolled him at Auchlyne Scots School, located in Corentyne, Berbice. It was there, that this aspiring politician first laid his eyes on his, “Juliet”. “Of course, I enjoyed my primary school days, for I love learning new things each day, but boy was I awe-struck when I first saw this pretty, little girl –Sita. I remember just staring at her because she was so beautiful. I knew at that moment that she would have my heart forever. The young “Romeo” was convinced that he had found his soulmate but he hadn’t seen much of her after he had moved

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Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo

on to Rose Hall and Corentyne Comprehensive High Schools. After high school, Nagamootoo reconnected with Sita and they got married on May 23rd, 1971 and the family extended with their children Angela, Maria, Adela and Moses Ernesto. In time, he was requested by former President Janet Jagan, the late wife of former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, to join the Mirror Newspaper. He was invited to the Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas in the United States of America (USA). There, he worked as a visiting journalist and it was sponsored by US Information Services. He was awarded the International Organisation of Journalists (IOJ) Scroll of Honour for Journalism from Vietnam and the


Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) Press Week Award. He was also recognized as a Harvard University Guest Author and Allen White University Fellow (USA). Later, he moved on to the University of Guyana (UG) to read for his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Unfortunately, he did not have the funds to move immediately on to the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad for his Legal Education Certificate (LEC) so his aspirations in this area were placed on pause but only for a short while. The General and Regional Elections which were held in 1992 and would see the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic ousting the People’s National Congress (PNC) and Nagamootoo was called upon to serve as Senior Minister of Local Government and Regional Development with responsibilities for Information and Amerindian Affairs. He eventually saved up enough money and completed his legal studies and did so in 2002. Nagamootoo served as a member of Cabinet under four Presidents of Guyana and as their Chief Speech Writer as well. Nagamootoo’s relationship with the PPP came to an end in 2011 as he left that camp for a robust and aggressive party, the Alliance For Change (AFC), with which he similarly served as Member of Parliament. The AFC then joined forces with a then five-party coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) in February 2015, in the lead up to the May 2015 General and Regional Elections where they returned victorious. Their win, which ended a 23-year rule by the PPP, saw Nagamootoo being sworn in as Prime Minister and First VicePresident on May 20, 2015 under the leadership of David Arthur Granger, the country’s eight Executive President. To date, Nagamootoo says he is proud of his literary accomplishments which include his two novels: Hendree’s Cure, published by the Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom, as well as Fragments from Memory which was published this year. The former book was a Nominee in 2001 for the Guyana Literature Prize for First Novel. Nagamotoo is also known for editing For the Fighting Front: An Anthology of Revolutionary Poems which was a Special Edition for the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) Festival Congress in 1794. His critically acclaimed publications include: Three Trials of Arnold Rampersaud; Towards a Peaceful Solution: a Commentary on the Guyana-Venezuela Border Issue; Fraud: a Synopsis of Guyana’s Rigged 1980 Elections; The State of the Free Press in Guyana (with former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan), Race, Class and Nationhood (with Dr. Cheddi Jagan) and Party Paramountcy over the Guyana Media. His prized manuscripts to this date remain; Caribbean Perspective of Suriname’s 1980 Coup, Origins of Mass-Based Parties in the Caribbean, the Grenada Grundnorm and Revolutionary Legality as well as NAFTA – Implications for the Caribbean. The First Vice President of Guyana is also the recipient of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Community Service Award from India, the PPP Meritorious Member Award and the Distinguished Service Plaque from the PPP/NY Support Group. “The important lesson I think to be learned from all that I have been through is to believe in yourself. Your circumstances do not define the destination. Look at where I started out and I didn’t allow the lack of resources to daunt my will power

Dr Cheddi Jagan, Clement Rohee and Moses Nagamootoo

of getting to where I needed to be. And that is what I hope to continue to inspire the other young leaders of this nation to do and to understand. Once you have that discipline, the dedication and determination to achieve your goal, nothing, and I mean nothing is impossible.” (Excerpts from an interview first published by Guyana Inc.)

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Sir Shridath and Lady Lois Ramphal with their Grandchildren

Sir Shridath Ramphal

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Guyana’s Diplomat Extraordinaire ir Shridath Surendranath “Sonny” Ramphal is internationally recognised for his distinguished career in law, politics and international diplomacy.

He was born on October 3, 1928 in New Amsterdam, Berbice, Guyana to Grace and James Ramphal. Perhaps it was an auspicious date in terms of the future direction of his career, since on that same day 29 years earlier the Paris Arbitral Tribunal Guyana’s boundary with Venezuela was demarcated. The controversy which subsequently arose after Caracas claimed the award was null and void, was to occupy much of his attention in his early days in the Ministry of External Affairs. Like so many of Guyana’s successful scholars, lawyers and top civil servants, Sir Shridath was the son of a schoolmaster. James I Ramphal, was a remarkable man in his own right, being an educator of stature who managed to persuade the colonial authorities to take a more progressive approach to the matter of educating East Indian girls. He also worked in the civil service, being appointed the first local Commissioner of Labour. It was in the private schools run by Ramphal Snr. that Sir Shridath obtained his early education, later moving on to the prestigious Queen’s College in Georgetown. Thereafter in 1947, he took the well-trodden path to London and a career in law, being called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1951. A Master’s degree in law from King’s College followed in 1952, and at a later stage he spent a year in Harvard Law School as a Guggenheim Fellow. Apart from the part-time work he undertook in the legal section

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Sir Shridath meets Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa


Sir Shridath Ramphal, 4 Secretaries General and the Queen Elizabeth

of the Colonial Office to support himself while he studied for his Master’s, his long career began unobtrusively enough as a Crown Counsel in the Attorney-General’s Office in 1953. In 1958, he was to join the West Indies Federation as a legal draughtsman, becoming Solicitor-General and then Assistant Attorney-General. He worked on the constitution for the Federation, but before that political entity ever attained Independence, it collapsed. For a time, Sir Shridath worked in private practice in Jamaica, but in 1965, he was coaxed back to Guyana by then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham to become Attorney-General in his government, writing the Constitution of independent Guyana in 1966 (It was changed in 1980 – five years after Ramphal left Guyana to become Commonwealth Secretary-General). From 1966, his long association with Foreign Affairs and Diplomacy began, when he became Minister of State in what was then the Ministry of External Affairs. He continued to hold both portfolios, although later in the upgraded form of Minister of Foreign Affairs (from 1972) and Minister of Justice (from 1973) until he left to become Commonwealth Secretary-General in 1975.

Sir Shridath Ramphal (then Guyana’s Foreign Minister) and Guyana’s First Diplomats

For all his service to the world, in terms of his contribution Sir Shridath has never deserted either the region or his homeland. Still a committed West Indian, he was Chairman of the West Indian Commission at the start of the 1990s; became the first Director-General of the Regional Negotiating Machinery in 1997. He led Guyana’s legal team at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea which handed down a ruling on the maritime boundary between this country and Suriname in 2007. His 2008 book, Triumph for UNCLOS: The Guyana-Suriname Maritime Arbitration, deals with the subject. Sir Shridath Ramphal’s latest addition to his publications, ‘Guyana in the World’ was launched in May 2016 to coincide with Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary. He is a regular visitor to Guyana and spends quite some time in the country where he is now an advisor to the Government. Sir Shridath

As Secretary-General of the Commonwealth he stood up against the white minority regime of Ian Smith and its unilateral declaration of independence in Southern Rhodesia, joining African leaders in fighting for independent Zimbabwe on the basis of one man, one vote. He was also spectacular in being part of the leadership in the Commonwealth and the world to free Nelson Mandela and end Apartheid in South Africa. In reviewing the extraordinary range of his activities, it hardly seems possible within the span of fifty-five years or so for any one man to have had such an impact on the world in such a dizzying number of fields. And the world has recognized his efforts and contribution with a plethora of honorary degrees and awards, including two knighthoods from the Queen. Sir Shridath has also been Chancellor of three Universities – University of Guyana, University of the West Indies and the University of Warwick – as well as Chairman of, or involved in, innumerable commissions and expert groups on everything from development to the environment to humanitarian issues. Less well known, perhaps, than his work as an international diplomat, is his output as a writer. In addition to innumerable monographs, he also has several books to his credit, which include among others, Our Country, The Planet: Forging A Partnership for Survival (1992); Inseparable Humanity: An Anthology of Reflections of Shridath Ramphal (1988); and Glimpses of a Global Life (2014).

Sir Shridath with US President Jimmy Carter and German Chancellor Willy Brandt

and his wife Lois have two daughters, Susan and Amanda, and two sons, Ian and Mark. They recently celebrated their 64th anniversary of marriage on 16 August, 2016. All of Guyana pays tribute to this outstanding son of Guyana and wishes Sir Sridath continued good health and many more wonderful years. Article and Photos: Courtesy of Stabroek News & the Ramphal Family.

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Reepu Daman Persaud A Rich Life in Politics and as a Hindu Leader

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aybe his father, Pt. Durga Prasad, an East Indian Immigrant (and a North Indian Bramhin priest) had some foresight when he named his son Ripudaman Prasad- conqueror of enemies. Born on the 16th January, 1936 at Plantation Diamond, East Bank Demerara and registered on his birth certificate as Reepu Daman Persaud, he would spend much of his adult life taking a resolute stance against negative forces that cast a dark shadow over his country, Guyana. The Hindi school where his father taught was attached to the logie they lived in. During the day, it was used as a Khilowna(nursery) where children playedwhen their parents went to the field and factory to work. He spent most of his teenage years with his mother Jasodia as they coped with the loss of his father. He knew Ramayan Chowpayees at just age six, perhaps because as a product of a traditional Pandit's home, Reepu Daman underwent all the important sanskars (Hindu ceremonies). His Upnayan Sankar or Janeo (initiation of young male into education) coincided with the marriage of his sister Chandroutie and he had to sleep on the ground in typical Bramchari style for five days and nights. Prior to the loss of his father, a young Reepu toured much of Guyana, attending yagnas with his father. More importantly he got the opportunity see the Ram Lilas (dramatic enactments from the Ramayan) that his father had initiated in British Guiana. With the loss of his father, it was a nomadic life for the

Reepu Daman Persaud Receiving Order of Roraima from President Cheddi Jagan

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young boy and his widowed mother who had to fend for themselves. His mother had a fruit and vegetable stall in the Stabroek Market. After school, Reepu Daman would help her to transport and sell goods, and when necessary even sleep there. Moving to Georgetown, he lived for a while in La Penitence/ Albouystown and recalls attending the Albouystown Temple. His education was progressing all the while. He attended Grove Anglican School and subsequently came to Georgetown and attended Trinity High School and then later did private Evening lessons. “The subjects I used to study were Constitution, British History and Economics. I loved those subjects,” he stated in an interview. Lack of finances, and more so, the country's situation in the turbulent sixties did not permit him to pursue his dream of becoming a Lawyer. Undaunted, Reepu channelled his efforts in a closely associated field, becoming a lawyer’s clerk. It was an early meeting with Dr. Cheddi Jagan, a powerful figure in British Guiana that would influence the impressionable and fearless Reepu Daman to walk the political path. In 1953, Dr Jagan spoke at a meeting in Diamond and he took up the mantle to campaign for the local candidate. And that was his entry into politics at the age of 17. On the 7th of December 1964, Reepu Daman was elected as one of the youngest Members of Parliament. Although embroiled in the Political arena, Reepu Daman was equally a part of the fight to establish a Hindu identity. For many years, his was the lone voice in the Hindu wilderness as many of his peers fled Guyana or sided with Forbes Burnham. In addition to his inherent charisma, it was his traits of honesty, courage and his defiant stand for what he believed were his people's rights, many times alone, that garnered support for the young Pandit and in 1955 he formed the Grove branch of the Guyana Sanatan Dharm Maha Sabha and was the first Secretary and by 1959, he was General Secretary. Eventually, when Burnham weighed his influence and


At PPP elections rally, 1997

Protesting for "free and Fair elections" - Parliament

Meeting with farmers

wanted the Sabha to support the PNC, Reepu was ousted but continued his unrelenting crusade of promoting Hinduism throughout Guyana and the Caribbean. He is credited with putting the chaupais (verses) to music (a tradition continued today by many Pandits) as he propagated the teaching of the Shri Ramcharitmanas. His Yagyas were seen as a beacon of hope by many of the Hindus, disillusioned by religious leaders who had deserted them in their time of need, leaving them to the proselytizers while they still struggled to establish an identity. Five years after his exit from the Maha Sabha, Pandit Persaud formed the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha on the 8th of January 1974, answering the call of the wider Hundu community. Under his stewardship and with committed men and women by his side, the Dharmic Sabha engaged in massive pracharak (community —based work) and formalized administrative Praants (branches) throughout Guyana. The Sabha continued to promote Hindu Dharma through pujas, mandir satsangs and yagyas, but more importantly, began implementing educational, social, cultural programmes to provide broad based support to the Hindu community. He has been widely credited as being the prime force behind the annual Deepavali motorcades which attract large audiences each year, and the setting up the Sabha’s Dharmic Sanskritik Kendra in Prashad Nagar, Georgetown. A supporter of Dr. Cheddi Jagan, Reepu Daman Persaud was an integral and pivotal player in the PPP's ascension to government in 1992. He was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Leader of Government Business in the Parliament (19922001). Under the Bharrat Jagdeo's Presidency, he held the post of Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and introduced several pieces of legislation in the National Assembly. During his parliamentary life he served at various times as Chief Whip, Deputy Speaker, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Chairman of the Constitution Reform Select Committee and Leader of the House. In total, he served for over 42 years as a Parliamentarian. Reepu Daman Persaud who has effortlessly spanned the religious and political arenas in Guyana, received the Order of Roraima (Guyana's second highest national award) — for long and outstanding service as a parliamentarian and for involvement in the struggle for free and fair elections and restoration of democracy in Guyana.

An illustrious son of Guyana, a patriot, a man who believed that people should rise above opportunistic maneuvers to gain prominence and personal benefits, Reepu Daman Persaud, never forgetting his humble beginnings, has, in this lifetime achieved remarkable things, rising to great heights in two diverse fields, religion and politics. He lived by the motto he adopted from the Bhagvad Geeta, for the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha and which defined his life— Karmannye vaadhiikaraste, Ma Phaleshu Kadaa Channa - "Action thy Duty, Reward not thy Concern." Reepu Daman Persaud died in April 2013 at the age of 77.

Reepu Daman Persaud welcomes legendary Indian Singer Mohammed Rafi

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Indranie Chandarpal

Politician and Women’s Rights Activist

Indra (sitting) was honoured by the PPP after spending a week in the New Amsterdam Prison

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ndranie Chandarpal, popularly known as Indra, was born to sugar workers at Enmore Estate and has six sisters and four brothers. Indra grew up in a very traditional and conservative environment where men and women were socialized on the basis of their religious beliefs and upbringing. Breaking taboos and cultural norms were very difficult in such a traditional environment. Nonetheless, there were exceptions where some parents were lenient and were prepared to give some leverage to their children to pursue their dreams. Indra was lucky to have had such an opportunity. Indra completed her primary school and moved on to secondary school. Unfortunately, that was short lived since her father got into an accident and did not have the money to pay the school fees for his three children in high school. She proceeded to the next best option which was a commercial education to become a secretary. Thereafter, she bought a GCE syllabus and proceeded to write a few subjects on her own. Simultaneously, she became involved in a youth group at age 17 and started to work at age 21. She proceeded overseas for a course in political science and upon her return she immersed herself in political work in the youth, women and People’s Progressive Party all at one

Indranie Chandarpal (left) and her daughter Gitanjali with the posthumous award for Navin Chandarpal

Indranie Chandarpal

time. This year would be 48 years since she became politically involved. Indranie remains a lomg srving Member of Parliament and President of the Women's Progressive Organisation (WPO). She travelled extensively overseas representing the organizations which she was a part of and spoke at numerous meetings locally and internationally. She was the General Secretary of the WPO from 1983 to 2012, a member of Party leadership from the early 80’s to present day. Indra was appointed a Minister twice from 1992 to 2001 and has been an MP for 25 years. She served on the prestigious Inter American Commission on Women which is the Women component of the Organization of American States from 20002002. She has been the Chairperson of the Women & Gender Equality Commission since 2009. She was married to the late Navin Chandarpal and has two children. Indra believes in service to people and is guided by principles of morality and integrity. She is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and encourages women to stand up for what they believe in.

Indra (centre) protested in front of City Hall for free and fair elections in 1992

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Dr Oudho Homenauth

The soil chemist who transformed agricultural research and technology By Keeran Singh

Dr Homenauth and his family

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ncreasingly, local farmers are beginning to incorporate new technologies into their traditional farming practices thanks to the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) headed by Dr. Oudho Homenauth, a Soil Chemist. When Dr. Homenauth returned to Guyana in July 1992, following the completion of his Doctoral Degree in Soil Chemistry from Cornell University, matters relating to climate change were unheard of. Dr. Homenauth is a product of a family that depended on agriculture for a daily bread. His parents, Fred and Jasoda (now 81 and 78 respectively) were not wage earners. They sold surplus produce from their kitchen garden and milk and meat from cattle to provide for their seven children. Oudho was the eldest and the only one to study at school in Georgetown. Between the years 1968 and 1975, Oudho attended Queen’s College. He was a science geek with aspirations for the medical field- agriculture was never given a thought. “My parents, who now reside in New York, worked hard to ensure I got an education. ” After completing ‘A’ Levels in 1975, Oudho moved back to the Corentyne, where he spent one year teaching at the Manchester Secondary School. In 1976, he took the first step towards an enriching career that has helped to transform agriculture in Guyana. Oudho enrolled at the University of Guyana, where he pursued a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemistry. He was exempted from the entire first year. And, while he spent only three years at UG, he was required to spend one year (1977 to 1978) in National Service. Oudho described National Service as an institution of discipline, cooperation and tolerance. Farming was a major activity at National Service, perhaps because the country was an agriculture nation. Some crops including red beans

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and corn grown in Kimbia, Ebini and other neighbouring communities along the Berbice River were new to Oudho. Dr. Homenauth’s most valued memory of National Service was learning to shoot a Self Loading Rifle on the range. While, he never hit the target, dressing up in the military attire and handling the rifle was a rush. At the age of 23, Oudho graduated from UG with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Chemistry. Soon after, he started his academic career as a Chemistry Instructor in the Faculty of Agriculture. Later, Oudho met and fell in love with his soul mate, Usha, at the University of Guyana. In 1982, Oudho and Usha got married. One year later, Oudho received a scholarship from the University to pursue a Masters in Agronomy, specializing in Soil Fertility and minoring in Chemistry and Statistics at the University of Mississippi. The young bride did not accompany Oudho. The two years passed quickly. In 1985, Oudho returned to Guyana embracing his responsibilities as a full fledge Lecturer 11. He was required to serve the University for three years. Between 1986 and 1992, Oudho and Usha produced four children. Ravi was born in 1986; two years before Oudho received another scholarship to study at an Ivy League University. He conducted his research in Soil Chemistry at the Cornell University. Oudho did not leave his family behind this time. When Dr. Oudho Homenauth returned to Guyana in July 1992 h i s


family was larger. Arun was born in 1989 and the twins (Esha and Navin) were born in 1992. He returned to the University of Guyana to serve for five years. He was subsequently promoted to Senior Lecturer and Dean Oudho described National Service as an institution of discipline, cooperation and for the Faculty of tolerance. Agriculture from 1994 to 1998. In 1999, whilst on Sabbatical leave Dr. Homenauth applied for an attachment at NARI. He was familiar with the Institute through being a Board Member, a responsibility that comes with being the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture. During that period, NARI was managing the rice sector. Providing consultancy services to NARI allowed Dr. Homenauth to identify areas that needed improvements. In 2000, Dr. Homenauth was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of NARI. “When I took over NARI the Institute was focused on rice and cassava, there was no strategic outlook and so myself and staff started working on creating a strategic plan (the first of three prepared thus far)…It was a challenging but exciting period. Field work was definitely different from academics,” Dr. Homenauth stated. Dr. Homenauth noted that as Government’s policy changed with respect to agriculture the Institute changed focused. The Institute was no longer responsible for rice. The Guyana Rice

Development Board was created and sadly the sugar industry was experiencing challenges. Emphasis was now being placed on agriculture diversification, food security, reduction of food importation bill and climate change. To accommodate the widened scope of NARI, Dr. Homenauth was instrumental in ensuring the transformation of the Institute’s facilities. “NARI now has improved infrastructure base on the work we do. Staff conduct their investigations in equipped and modern laboratories. The labs could be used for graduate studies. And, from time to time both foreign and local students use our facility,” Dr. Homenauth said. Also, by 2011, the ambit of NARI had expanded to include the Extension Services. The agency was now referred to as the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI). This coupled with Dr. Homenauth’s leadership has allowed NAREI to have a presence is all 10 Administrative Regions. The relationship between the agency and farmers has improved through regular interactions and quicker response to concerns. Furthermore, the Institute has been transferring technology such as new crop varieties, integrated pest management, shaded cultivation and hydroponics to the farming community. Of course, cash crop production in Guyana has grown significantly. There are over 80 different crops with different varieties produced in Guyana. For instance, there are 26 different varieties of mango trees located right in NAREI’s Mon Repos compound. That is just a mere example of the wide array of fruits and vegetables that are available in Guyana. However, Dr. Homenauth and his team at NAREI are aware of the susceptibilities of plants in harsh conditions. As such, ever so often the Institute is conducting trials before introducing new varieties. The hard work is paying off.

It’s A Must For Your Family Nand Persaud & Company Limited (Rice Milling Complex) has over the years developed a reliable transportation and delivery system to its markets locally and international. Its main goal is to deliver a quality product at a competitive price, while maintaining a consistently reliable supply to all its customers.

#36 Village, Corentyne, Berbice, Guyana Tel: 592-325-3564/64, US line: 973-755-1967

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Naya Zamana A Guyanese Theatrical Production’ Goes International

Photos by Fidal Bassier, Amanda Richards and VJ Bisram

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aya Zamana, a spectacular, home grown dance-drama, has been creating waves in New York over the past two years. The production, which developed a faithful following in Guyana and enjoyed sold out shows at the National Cultural Centre for the last 21 years, has completely enraptured the diverse New York audiences. Two years of the production being staged at the York College Performing Arts Theater in Queens, New York has resulted in a fan following that simply cannot get enough of Naya Zamana. Naya Zamana is the brainchild and creative project of Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud, a classically trained dancer and choreographer. Over the years, she has expressed her growth in dance and the arts through the evolving medium of Naya Zamana, fusing dance with music, song and, in the last ten years, drama allowing her to script, direct and produce an entertaining, riveting and qualitative artistic theatrical production. Her sister, Trishala Simantini Persaud, an attorneyat-law by profession, is the other half of this formidable duo as she brings flair and magic through majestic and extraordinary sets and glamorous, vibrant and trendsetting costumes. Trishala also adds her choreography and critical eye to the production. What makes this production so successful is the obvious creative chemistry the sisters share and the bonds

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they have with their students, who leave no stone unturned to deliver excellent and dynamic performances. All the students have been trained free of cost at the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha’s Sanskritik Kendra in Georgetown and the sisters teach voluntarily. Many of them have grown with the production from childhood. Dr. Vindhya cites many sources as her inspiration for the original and diverse scripts written each year; current day issues in families and communities, romantic trends in today’s and yesterday’s worlds, her travels to various countries and


Trishala Simantini Persaud

exposure to their culture, history and theatre and usually an inclination to send home a positive, moral message through her characters and the overall story. She explains that even though the intent is to deliver a serious message, she understands that persons usually attend theater to escape from harsh realities to a world of fantasy for a few hours, to relax, to laugh. As such, she tries to present a production with all the elements to meet those expectations. She has stayed loyal to various genres of Hindi/Indian music and manages to transport the attendees with the eclectic blend of old and new, classical and modern and not so popular rhythms to suit every taste. In fact, Naya Zamana is known to create musical trends through its

signature blend of music. Vindhya would have performed in 16 of the 20 productions as well as directed each one. However, in recent years, she has stepped away from the stage to focus more on choreography, direction and other aspects of production. She admits that she misses the stage as she has always viewed dance and performance as an integral part of who she is. Indeed, it boggles the mind as to how someone who runs her own medical practice, is a member of Parliament and the President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, among other hats she wears, manages to find time to create something as impressive as Naya Zamana. Her creative process involves an intense short burst of writing where she churns out various ideas and tests them on her friends and sister and gets their feedback. Her characters can sometimes be written to fit the actor or actress she has in mind so that it appears entirely natural on stage or it is so Horizons 2017 -

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Cast of Naya Zamana Patrons in lobby - Naya Zamana , New York edition.

different from those who actually play the role that it challenges them to get out of their comfort zone. Naya Zamana has been known to introduce fresh, youthful talent with each production, notably Zahrah Alli, Dr. Indhira Harry, Travez Piaralall, Nirmala Persaud, Farzaana Khan, Ananda Latchman, Ashwini Sarran, Rishi Dubraj and also has had participation from actors and dancers from the diaspora, Amit Shah, Noman Ahmad, Aryan Masi, Prashant Sitaram and Rahul Ravichandran. Nazim Hussain, a veteran Guyanese actor was the first established senior to join the cast in the memorable role of the Emperor Akbar. Dr. Persaud took the integration a step further when she added a number of artistes from New York to the cast when Naya Zamana was staged there last year. They were ecstatic to be a part of this production and dived in with gusto and quickly became a part

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of the Naya Zamana family. According to Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud, “Naya Zamana is a passion of mine, a part of my soul which I share every year and its light never seems to dim within and without. It is crafted meticulously with attention to detail and a love for the arts. I think it provides a platform for many young,aspiring artistes and I am happy to have contributed a bit of me to help them find themselves in this journey of creation and art that we all are on.� She is always touched by the outpouring of support received each time Naya Zamana is staged at home, making it one of the most sought after productions and considers it a blessing that Naya Zamana has an ardent and loyal support base making it one of the few sold-out shows in Guyana. The two New York Editions of Naya Zamana have been following the home production closely with the attendance despite many other noteworthy productions being staged there. For this, Dr. Persaud is most appreciative. She is also overwhelmed by the love and warmth that she and the entire cast receives from so many there who open their homes and hearts to them making the production easier for them, the Thakoordeen family


Dr Vindhya Vasini Persaud with her students

and the members of the Dharmic USA Praant, Radio and TV personalities and others. Many persons travel and have flown to New York just to see Naya Zamana. Whether in Guyana or the USA, the highly acclaimed Naya Zamana heats up the stage with shimmering, trendy, costumes,

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fast tempo music, soulful tracks and stories that unravel through high energy, technical, fast paced contemporary and traditional dance routines illustrating a surge of vibrant footwork and a picture of emotional rapture. The Dharmic Nritya Sangh, the dance group of the Dharmic Kendra brings the true vivacity and the enchantment of Indian dance, cinema, drama and the arts to life. The artistry of Indian Classical dance fused with modern Contemporary dance is magical as it is performed by a cast whose energy is electrifying, their dance moves suffused with a rush of euphoria and yet ruthlessly precise. In its 20th Year, Naya Zamana gave the New Yorkers a dazzling theatrical spectacular wrapped into 120 minutes of swirling colours, sparkle, shimmer and electrifying energy and managed to weave its magic there as well. The audience gasped from the moment the curtains went up and were drawn into

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a celebration of dreams and realities, happiness and sorrows, madness and sanity that spilled over into the 21st year. There were screams and cheers as each act unfolded. Many posited that they had never seen anything quite like it emerging from the West Indian community there and it was refreshing to see something of such high quality from Guyana. Dr. Vindhya, who stepped on the New York stage with a tiny bit of dance to the evergreen “Chaudavin ka Chand” in Naya Zamana 21, received sustained applause and cheering throughout the performance, a memory which she says she will carry with her forever, “There was so much love and appreciation that night when I stepped out to do the dance, I forgot a few steps, so touched and humbled was I by that, and in the next minute I was swept away in my own world of music and dance that I had temporarily left…those moments will stay with me for a


lifetime.� She thanks Prashant Sitaram who pushed her to do it and fused her style with his. Both sisters, who have been dancing from their childhood, and started Naya Zamana in their teens, have created a signature of creative elegance and excellence raising the bar at home in Guyana and more recently in the West Indian

community in New York. Naya Zamana ensnares the viewer and makes them become gripped in the characters and before one realises, he or she is flying with the flow of the story. Naya Zamana has crossed the 20th milestone superbly and it is to be seen what new surprises will unfurl in the future.

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Ivan Madray

t e k c Cri

! ! n o i s s a P r u O , e m a G r u O ANAj Singh Y U G S IN By: Khemra KETER

IC

CR N A I D N TI S A E F EO

S

THE RI

I

Rohan Khannai

n the eighteenth century, cricket was introduced and developed by the British sugar planters in British Guiana. East Indians who lived in the capital, Georgetown, played a great role in its development. Among the early pioneers were Joseph Ruhoman and Thomas Flood after whom the Flood Cup was named. The Flood Cup Competition was played among East Indian Teams in Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo for supremacy with the intent of developing East Indian cricketers in the colony of British Guiana. In 1914, prominent East Indians formed the East Indian Cricket Club (EICC) which was later renamed the Everest Cricket Club after the Independence of British Guiana. In those days, cricket was played across the country on every open space available, whether it was back-yards, school yards, open pastures or on the

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street. The opening of the EICC brought added interest in the game and players like J.A Veerasawmy, Richard Ruhoman and Chatterpaul (Doosha) Persaud emerged. Persaud was a prolific run machine; he had a high score of 174 in a partnership with Peter Bayley against the might of Barbados. He was the first Indo-Guyanese to score a century in regional cricket. Many felt he was unlucky not to have represented the West Indies. On the other hand, Veerasawmy was the first Indo-Guyanese to play inter-colonial cricket, a medium pace bowler, he had great accuracy. He played three matches at the regional level with the best bowling of 5 wickets for 67 runs against Trinidad. Ruhoman was an off-break bowler and played his first match against Barbados in 1934. His best bowling was 7 wickets for 130 runs. In 1941 businessman Francis Kawall donated a trophy called the Kawall Cup which was played between East Indian Teams from British Guiana, Trinidad and Suriname. Out of that competition the likes of Rohan Kanhai, Sonny Baijnauth, Joe Solomon, Sonny Moonsammy and Ivan Madray emerged. In 1947, Ganesh Persaud, a stylish batsman in his own right made his debut against Jamaica at the famous Bourda Cricket Ground with scores of 35-not out and 58 runs. By the 1950s many cricket grounds and community centers were established particularly on the Berbice and Demerara Sugar Estates. A famous Barbadian and West Indian cricketer, Clyde Walcott, arrived in British Guiana in 1954 to take up a position with the British Guiana Sugar Producers Association with the main task of developing cricket on sugar estates. Upon arrival he found that the facilities for playing cricket on these estates were poor by most standards and set out to improve the conditions there. Because of his influence, he was able to instill a sense of pride and commitment in many up and coming cricketers and some of those early talented cricketers like Kanhai, Solomon and Madray were propelled to the forefront and gained early recognition. Many other highly talented players particularly from rural communities were lost to Guyana and the world due to the dominance of Georgetown Clubs. The fame and success of Rohan Kanhai and company generated great interest amongst East Indians countrywide resulting in the growth of the game and saw the subsequent

Chatterpaul 'Doosha Persaud in 1937: the first Indo-West Indian to score a century in inter-colonial cricket

evolution of a number of outstanding East Indian cricketers who emerged to represented Guyana such as Alvin Kalicharran, the Etwaroo brothers, Rex Ramnarace, Leonard Baichan, Adjodha Persaud, Lall Munilal, Harold Pertab, Faoud Bacchus, Sew Shivnarine and Timur Mohammed. Some of these players also went on the represent the West Indies Team with Alvin

The Berbicians and their 'discoverer' (1956): left to right Madray, Butcher, Walcott, Baijnauth, Kanhai and Soloman

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Kalicharran being the standout player. Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan are of the most recent vintage with Chanderpaul finishing his long and outstanding career as one of the most successful Test Batsmen ever to play for the West Indies. Rohan Kanhai made his debut in regional cricket in 1954 and went on the have a long and illustrious career for both Guyana and the West Indies. He was the first Indo-Guyanese cricketer to represent the West Indies in test cricket in 1957

and later became the Cricket Professional at the Warwickshire Cricket Club in England in 1968, for nine years. He captained the West Indies Team in 1973 on their tour of England and went on to captain 13 more test matches. In my opinion, one of the reasons the West Indies won the 1975 World Cup is attributed to his excellent partnership of 172 runs with Clive Lloyd. Rohan Kanhai bowed out of cricket with his final test innings of 157 runs against England in 1973. He was later appointed coach of the Jamaican Cricket Team and then went on to coach the West Indies Team for a short period. Joe Solomon made his debut for British Guiana in 1956 where he scored three consecutive centuries against Barbados, Jamaica and Pakistan. He then went on to play his first Test Match in 1958 against India. He also had a long and illustrious career for both Guyana and the West Indies Teams. After his final Test Match against Australia in 1964 he became Cricket Administrator at the Local and Regional levels and made a sterling contribution to the growth and development of cricket in Guyana. His name would be indelibly printed in the history of cricket for his heroics in the 1960/61 test match in Australia where he ran out the last batsman hitting the stumps with a direct throw with the scores tied. Ivan Madray was the second Indo-Guyanese to represent the West Indies. He played two test matches against Pakistan in 1958. I first met Ivan and Sonny Baijnauth when they were visiting Hardat Singh (grandfather of Vishal Singh current Guyanese cricketer), wicket-keeper of the EICC, at his home in Alexander Village. At the time I was a teenager. It was their rest day of the Kawall Cup match between the East Indian teams of British Guiana and Trinidad. I was privileged to meet him again years later at the 1975 World Cup. Alvin Isaac Kallicharran was born in Paidama, a rural settlement in Berbice, Guyana as one of 11 siblings. His father Isaac was a coconut farmer who captained the Port Mourant team, the club from which hailed cricketers of the stature of Rohan

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Alvin Isaac Kallicharran

Joe Soloman

Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon and the Christiani brothers, Cyril and Robert. Kallicharran learnt the game and in the streets with sticks, branches as a bat. After prolific performances with the bat in Berbice and Inetr-County cricket, he was recognised as rare talent and made his debut for Guyana at age 16, the youngestever to represent the country in Shell Shield and was signed to play for Warwickshire in England in 1971. The little man made his debut for West Indies at Bourda, Georgetown during the 1971-72 New Zealand tour announcing himself with a delightful hundred and followed up playing a scintillating 101 in just 3 hours in the fifth Test Match in Trinidad. His 158 in Port-of-Spain against England is widely considered to have been one of the classiest knocks he ever played. Kallicharran was a big hit touring India where the passionate cricket fans identified with his origins, looks and last name all of which bore the Indian stamp. Over the years, he became established as one of the great West Indian batsmen whose top order runs served as fuel for the West Indies fast bowling machinery that dominated world cricket in all formats for two decades. In 1978 he became West Indies Captain against the touring Australians leading a new and inexperienced team. Kallicharran - the graceful left-hander retired as one of the greatest West Indian batsmen of all time. In 66 Tests he managed 4,399 runs at an average of 44.43, with 12 hundreds and a career best Test score of 187 at Bombay against India. Shiv Chanderpaul – hails from Unity on the East Coast of Demerara and made his debut for the West Indies in 1994 at Bourda, Georgetown at the tender age of 19 years. The possessor of the most unusual technique in world cricket, Shivnarine Chanderpaul proved there is life beyond the coaching handbook. He never seemed to play in the V, or off the front foot, but used soft hands, canny deflections, and a whiplash pull-shot to maintain a Test average of over 50. While the cricket world was obsessed with Brian Lara's unquestionable talent, Chanderpaul showed that there were alternate ways to be consistent and prolific in Test cricket over a long period of time, becoming only the second West Indian to score 10,000 Test runs. When Chanderpaul started out, he had a low conversion rate of around one hundred to every ten fifties, and secondly, his physical frailty. That myth was exploded when a large

Ramnaresh Sarwan

Shivnarine Chanderpaul

piece of floating bone was removed from his foot late in 2000, and, suitably liberated, he set about rectifying his hundreds problem, scoring three in four Tests against India in 2001-02, and two more in the home series against Australia the following year, including 104 as West Indies successfully chased a worldrecord 418 for victory in the final Test in Antigua. Since then, he managed to keep his own standards at a remarkably high level despite the perennial problems that West Indies faced. On the few occasions that West Indies tasted success during his career, Chanderpaul's contributions were vital - in the Champions Trophy triumph in 2004, he contributed greatly with a consistent performances. A stint as West Indies captain followed in 2005-06, and though he celebrated with a double-century in front of his home fans in Guyana, it was clear that captaincy was affecting his batting, and in 2006 he gave it up to concentrate on his main job. Perhaps his greatest contribution, though, had been in holding together West Indies' fragile batting line-up after Lara's retirement. With a couple of other senior batsmen, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle, not being available due to various reasons, Chanderpaul's contributions were immense, as he has defied bowling attacks in all countries and all conditions, often with minimal support from the other end. One of the best examples of that was against Australia in 2012, in the series in which he got to 10,000 Test runs: he ran up scores of 103*, 12, 94, 68 and 69, for an aggregate of 346 in five innings. The second-highest aggregate for West Indies in the series was 186, which amply sums up Chanderpaul's Test career. He signed off from the game in January 2016, aged 41. About the Author: Khemraj Singh is a former cricketer and sports administrator in Guyana. He is an avid cricket enthusiast and played cricket for his Alma Mater – Central High School in the Wight Cup and Chin Cup Inter-school competitions. He captained his home Team Plantation Ruimveldt, winning the Farm Challenge Cup, which was played among sugar estates teams on the East Bank of Demerara. He served as Secretary of the East Bank Demerara Cricket Board for several years and later as Secretary of the Demerara Cricket Club (DCC). He represented both those teams as a member of the Guyana Cricket Board. He was also a well known Boxing Promoter. He is now retired and currently resides with his family in Long Island, New York. Horizons 2017 -

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Meet Ben Parag – His incredible singing journey By Vindhya V. Persaud with Karan Johar

B

en Parag has become the most followed young singer in North America and Guyana since he began his journey on India’s Star Plus TV Reality Show “Dil Hai Hindustani” this year. Born in New York to Guyanese parents Savi and Kumar Parag, this 19 year old won the hearts of fans around the world and standing ovations from Judges, Director/Producer /Actor Karan Johar, Musician /Rapper Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia popularly called Badshah ,Singer /Composer Shekhar Ravjiani and Playback Singer Shalmali Kholgade with his first appearance on the show. Obviously nervous on stage, but equally overtly lost in his world of music, the moment he begins to sing, Ben got spontaneous and overwhelming plaudits from none other than the critical Karan Johar with his beautiful expression of the song “Mitwaa” in the audition. Each of his performances only got better as the show progressed. Ben’s signature “harkats and murkhis” (fast and delicate ornamentations in music), and his versatility and ability to own the songs he sang catapulted him to the top six in the competition. As the competition intensified, a tenacious Ben delivered and held his own against fierce competition. Judges Shekhar and Karan Johar rated him as one of their favourites and marveled at his ability to transcend his Hindi limitations and his distance With his Gurus on the show

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from India to render his songs with beautiful diction, precision and soul. Guyana and New York lapped it up and Ben is fast becoming a household name. He was lifted high by one of the judges, hugged by many on the show, praised and encouraged by guest judges; Vidya Balan, Shah Rukh Khan, Raftaar, his performances from the show went viral, Guyanese and New Yorkers loyally tuned into the show every week to follow his progress…yet, Ben fondly called Benny, has stayed humble, grounded and very much in love with his music. I chatted with him as he prepared for his shoots for the show in India and Ben was delighted to share snapshots of his journey on “Dil Hai Hindustan” and his stay in India. Meet Ben Parag: Ben: My musical journey was one that was definitely hereditary. My grandparents used to sing, my mom used to sing, and my whole family sings, so singing was in our blood. When I was younger however, I picked up music on my own. My mom never sent me to classes in the beginning. I just started like that, and from there my musical journey began. I remember my first song being "Jyoti kalash chalke" by the great Lata Mangeshkar Ma'am. My training began when I was 9 years old with Shri Kinnar and Shrimati Payal Seen and is still ongoing. I am currently learning Sham Chaurasi and Gwalior Gharana classical music. Vindhya: What made you audition for Dil Hai Hindustani? Ben: I've always been in love with the Bollywood scene and wanted to be a part of it. So when I saw that Dil hai Hindustani was coming out with a show for internationals like myself, I was super excited because the shows before that weren't allowing any internationals. I had to go through a total of 3 auditions and they were very tough because the talent here in Mumbai is on a different level! So for my first round, I sang Sanware by Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and they loved it and from there I started airing. Vindhya: And when you got into the show? Ben: When I got into the show, I was very excited, but a bit nervous. The teachings that I got from my gurus and parents,


With Vidya Balan and Shekhar (L-R)

I had to use them to become my strength within the show. I always loved India and the culture, but it was my first time coming here alone. I didn't know how it would play out...but I had faith in God and thankfully I've been progressing through the show. Vindhya: Tell us something of Ben, what makes you tick? What are your hobbies outside of music? What defines you? Ben: Ben is Ben. I love to enjoy the moment and I love to stick to my truest form at all times, because I feel like if you're happy with who you are as a person, your actions and music will portray that. One thing that makes me tick is itchy clothing. My hobbies outside of music are not much, but I love playing badminton. To be honest, I'm not sure what defines me because I don't think I have a definition, but something I represent a lot are my gurus. I believe a lot in the guru shishya and gharana systems. What you guys don't know about me is that Guyana is my favorite country to visit! I love Guyana so much. There's no difference from where I stay in New York and Guyana Vindhya: Your first performance on Dil Hai Hindustani… Ben: I was extremely nervous, I cannot explain to you. But the thing about me is that once I start singing, I don't really think. To be honest, after most of my performances, I don't remember what I was actually doing on the stage, I just remember bits and pieces. I remember after I sang the judges gave me a standing ovation and Shekhar Sir asked me, "are you from earth?". And, I was so happy and emotional because it was such a great moment Vindhya: You met many celebrities, which moments stood out in your mind when you sang for or met with them? Ben: I met many actors and I was grateful that they all loved my performances, but I was always a huge fan of Vidya Balan Ma'am. I sang for her and she ran up on the stage and hugged me along with Shekhar sir. I was the most excited to meet Sharukh Khan Sir and Vidya Balan Ma'am. Vindhya: Did you have training throughout the competition? Who from home /India kept you strong and focused? Ben: I have been trained in light ghazal and many others,

and you know every song has a mood. It has a nature, just like our Hindu deities, so that's how I approached everything. We did have vocal coaching throughout the competition and the vocal coaches that I have worked with are simply amazing and I will never forget what they have taught me like Smriti Minocha Ma’am, Shom Chaterjee, Sudeep and Rheek Sirs. My parents and my gurus supported me every step of my journey. Vindhya: What were the highs and lows of that journey? Ben: Dil Hai Hindustani became like a big family for me, so I felt like I was literally waking up to my brothers and sisters. Of course every competition has a difficulties, but I found my way through them with the blessings of the great people around me. My most memorable performance was “Mitwa”. It was tough leaving my family for the first time in my life, to start building myself up as an individual and I did not think it would go like this. I feel like I have grasped so much from India and I just want to learn more. I was treated with so much hospitality and respect. I enjoyed the Indian food and now love the traffic because it intrigues me. Vindhya: Were you able to pick up the language? Ben: I was able to pick up the language a bit. I understand much more than I did when I got here and I can speak a little bit, sometimes my accent gets in the way but nevertheless I will keep on trying! Vindhya: What would you tell young people who are pursuing a dream like yours? Ben: Always look at your journey as a student. Music has no limit and will always be bigger than all of us. So treat it like your God and it will reward you with progress. I'm always thankful. I have what I have, because of God and the great people around me and that helps me stand on my two feet and try to climb bigger walls. Vindhya: You developed a huge fan following, what would you like to say to them? Ben: I would like to say “thank you guys from the bottom of my heart”. Without you guys, I am nothing and thank you for your blessings. I love you. Vindhya: What can the world expect of Ben in the future? Ben: It's all about hard work and perseverance and I will do anything I can to reach my goals. I am not sure. I will be living in India now, so let's see what God has in store for me.. Vindhya: Anything else, you want to add that I didn’t ask (laughing)? Ben: Hahahahahaha hahahaha, I love this one! Thank you for giving me this opportunity to do this interview and I would love to come sing for my parents’ home country some time. Vindhya: If I have anything to do with it, that might be sooner than you think, Ben! Gifted, focused, humble, disciplined and definitely epitomizing “Dil Hai Hindustani” through his singing, Ben has left an indelible impression on many hearts and the future looks promising and bright for this young man. We wish him a brilliant musical future and journey. Well done, Ben Parag!

with contestants of Dil Hai Hindustani Horizons 2017 -

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T

Young Trailblazers

he new generation of Indo-Guyanese are positioning themselves to take the lead in all spheres of life, just as those of the earlier generations of descendants of the Indian indentured workers dared to dream big and make their mark. The list of young Indo-Guyanese who are excelling in all fields – including business, the arts, and medicine – are worthy of admiration and emulation. We feature just a handful of youths who continue to make a name for themselves while contributing to the development of Guyana.

Dr Mahendra Carpen Ready to save more lives

“I regard myself as a full-time husband and father, part time cardiologist, the son of a cane-cutter who was given an opportunity. “ Says Mahendra Carpen, who is the Consultant Cardiologist at the Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI) since 2012. He was recruited to be at CHI by Dr. Gary Stephens, the founder of this public/private partnership enterprise, after completing his Fellowship in Boston, USA. From humble origins in Albion, Corentyne, Berbice, Dr. Carpen who has always been a high achiever from his Primary school and President’s College days, considers himself fortunate to be able to make a tangible contribution to Healthcare in Guyana. His experience at CHI has been rewarding and unrestricted, and he has since been conferred with three peer-endorsed International Fellowships - American College of Physician, European Society of Cardiology and American College of Cardiology. Dr. Carpen shares with Horizons, “Since starting in Guyana, I have lead the efforts along with colleagues to improve the quality of cardiovascular care, education and accessibility to the citizens of Guyana. Our most recent achievement was the provision of invasive cardiac services to all patients presenting to the public hospital system meeting criteria for procedures such as angiograms, angioplasty, pacemakers etc. without regard to financial or other considerations. This means that the poor and indigent will receive the equal care and services in their most vulnerable times.” He has the distinction of doing the first implantation of Intracardiac defibrillators, cardiac resynchronization device Dr Carpen and his family

Head of the Caribbean Heart Institute Dr Mahendra Carpen displays one of the hospital’s heart shaped pillows, a memorabilia given to every patient who undergoes surgery at the institution. (Stabroek News photo)

implantations, loop recorder implantation and pacemaker lead revisions in Guyana. A diligent and progressive practitioner, his plans over the next few months are to introduce Cardiac Electrophysiology and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. His goal is to make Guyana the Regional Center of Excellence in 2 years. Carpen wants to provide Electrophysiology services at home, to enable Guyanese to access this service which he provides in Trinidad. He posits, “For many reasons Guyanese are unable to access this care overseas but we will bring it home to Guyana.” Tireless in his pursuit to deliver quality cardiac care, the head of Cardiology at GPHC has put together a team of dedicated, gifted, young doctors, nurses and allied health colleagues with the full support of hospital administration, overseas partners and Ministry of Health, and the program is seeing tremendous results in improving the length and quality of life of their patients. The team members are actively involved in personal development and education while they provide quality cardiac care. He has also extended his expertise to the Woodlands Hospital and started a cardiology program there to give patients the options for their cardiac care needs. He emphatically states; “It is my desire is to see that every citizen receives adequate healthcare coverage from a primary to tertiary level, independent of financial status. It is therefore critical for us to undergo a phased healthcare reform to ensure that everyone is covered by appropriate health insurance.” The father of two, who is married to Dr. Jodi-Ann Swaby, an Internal Medicine Specialist does not hesitate to thank his family, “My greatest strength is the support structure that I enjoy, the best example is my family. To have their support, understanding and quiet motivation is immeasurable.” Horizons 2017 -

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Rosh Khan Successful Entrepreneur with a Social Conscience

“Placing my medical career on hold to dive into the world of entrepreneurship was one of the toughest decisions I made,” says Rosh Khan. After investing an ample amount of time, energy and dedication in medical training and after passing the United States Medical Licensing Exam, Dr. Rosh Khan decided to hit the pause button, only to inject that same level of time, energy, and dedication into the unpredictable world of business. Five years later he is a successful entrepreneur. “People often call me crazy but here’s my firm belief: Whether it’s healthcare, business, or education, my purpose is simple – put people first and serve them in every capacity possible. Serve them in a way that transforms their lives. As a successful entrepreneur, I’m able to fund humanitarian initiatives with company profits. Granted, what we do now is relatively modest compared to big donor agencies but with our current trajectory and level of commitment, we have big hopes and dreams for Guyana and its future. ” The charismatic 29-year-old noted that his company, SocialRank Media, started from an attic that he rented in Long Island, NY. He was fresh out of medical school and had limited funds. To afford trips to conferences and print his first flyers and business cards, he held jobs with 1-800-Flowers as a “flower delivery boy” and with LifeBotanica as a herbal supplement salesman. He chose to launch a social media agency because he recognized the trends and understood it would be “the next big thing” and that “digital was and will continue to be the way of the future.” Today, Khan is sought after by many renowned international companies for his practical advice, consulting, and mentorship on the various nuances of marketing and business development – with a strong emphasis on digital and web

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development. Internationally, he has worked with Starbucks, Armani Exchange, FORD Motor Company, ClickBank and bestselling authors like Jack Canfield. In Guyana, he has served organizations such as the Parliament of Guyana, Giftland OfficeMax, Metro Office & Computer Supplies and Gizmos & Gadgets and he personally offers free consultations with members of the public every Thursday afternoon at his main office on Regent Street. The Masterclass Institute, another brainchild of Rosh Khan, pulled off Guyana’s first ever Digital Wealth Creation Summit. The success of this event was captured on the enthusiastic faces of its 650+ attendees and the dozens of success stories from individuals who implemented the knowledge shared. Some have sold out their products, others have expanded their teams to meet consumer demand, while some have left their jobs to create a full-time income working online. Khan’s work in the field and his study of trends cause him to believe that ICT and MIS must be strategically nurtured to create a better Guyana. When asked about his big goal, he said, “I have a dream that one day Aunty, Uncle, or Granny from the USA is going to call their relative in Guyana and ask, “Can YOU send me $100 or $200 or even $500 USD?” We’ve grown too accustomed to having it one way – the easy way – and we haven’t truly leveraged the knowledge, tools, and resources available to us. We have everything it takes to create a different reality. A better reality. But more of us need to roll up our sleeves, work together, and do all we can to make it happen.” Khan passionately explained that as his companies grow, the big-picture thinking is that they’ll be able to fund the establishment of hospitals and schools, with particular focus on ICT education and community development. He leaned forward and asked boldly, “The country is abuzz with building five-star hotels and malls. The real question is: Are we building five-star communities?” A humble Khan shared that his success can be attributed to his parents. “Any success I experience is a direct result of the values learned from my parents. Community. Service. Work ethic. I grew up in this.” “Whether you’re young or young at heart, the blueprint is simple, although not easy: Find a need and fill that need. Period! Be committed to the vision. Enlist advice and mentorship when needed. Understand that no matter how well-intentioned you are, malpractice and lack of strategic processes are a recipe for disaster. Listen to the market and let humility, passion, curiosity, and strategy guide you.”


Patricia Bacchus The Successful Businesswoman now Steering the Guyana Office for Investment

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atricia Bacchus studied law and was admitted to the Bar in 2006, but has never practiced in the local courts. Having been offered an opportunity at Caribbean Containers Inc (CCI) - a packaging and recycling group, she removed herself from a potentially distinguished career along the judicial corridor and the footsteps of her illustrious father, attorney Mursaline Bacchus. She has since been appointed as CEO at the CCI Group and has become well respected in the local business community having served in the leadership of the local Private Sector organisations and the Boards of a number of State Agencies. From early in life, Bacchus showed academic prowess and that served as an early indication that she would also be a high achiever in later life. She was Best Graduating Student at New Amsterdam Multilateral Secondary and then Valedictorian at President’s College. At the University of Guyana, she received the ProChancellor’s Medal for Best Graduating Law Student and the Anne Blue Memorial Scholarship for Most Outstanding Second Year Law Student, among other prizes. At the Hugh Wooding Law School, the prizes she received included the Government of Guyana Prize for Most Outstanding Law Graduate, the M.H. Shaw Memorial Award for Best Performance in Legal Drafting; and the Lex Caribbean Prize for Client Interviewing and Advocacy. So, why did she not pursue a career in law? “I think I was deterred to some extent by the state of our judiciary locally. My father would have taken me to court since I was twelve years old and the things that I witnessed and that I saw… I had more concerns about the fact that a prisoner was not wearing shoes and was being chucked into a box than I did for what was going on in the courtroom,” she stated. Then she recalled going to court and after sitting and waiting there was nothing to be done because something could not be produced or someone failed to turn up. “I have a very low tolerance level for time wastage and inefficiencies. I am very frank about how I feel, how I see things, particularly when I know I am right. If I know that the law is on my side or that the merit of the case would demand certain things to be done and they are not done I am personally afraid of my reaction,” Bacchus said frankly. Bacchus joined CCI as a consultant in 2006, a position that should have lasted for three months, but she was subsequently appointed Director of Administration and then the Chief Operations Officer at the beginning of 2012. At that time she also took over the day-to-day running of the company as it

coincided with her then boss Ronald Webster being appointed Chairman of the Private Sector Commission. When she took up the consultancy appointment, Bacchus was just out of law school and was awaiting graduation, but Webster whom she calls her mentor, sold her on what they were trying to do at the time to keep the company going, and she agreed to help them with the legal aspects of negotiating with a bank to get a US$15M debt written off. It was a “tall task” but with the assistance of the external attorney they were able to come up with a plan for the restructuring of the company. “When I joined this company we could barely pay our bills; we could barely pay salaries. We were facing the risk of letting go some 150 employees; we hadn’t appropriate arrangement in place for insurances for employees…” CCI was incorporated in 1978 and commercial operations commenced in 1983 with the box plant. And even while she worked at CCI, Bacchus also lectured in the law faculty of the University of Guyana for five years which she found fulfilling and enjoyable. She lectured in legal methods, research and writing, and she piloted a new course called the law and science, medicine and technology. Bacchus is currently the Chairperson of the Guyana Office for Investment, the national agency tasked with directing investments in Guyana. She has served also in a number of other capacities including as a Member of the Protected Areas Commission Board, Chairperson of Board of Directors, Environmental Protection Agency (May 2014 – May 2015), Member of Atlantic Hotels Inc. (July 2015 – December 2016), Member of the Privatization Board (July 2015 – December 2016) In 2012, Bacchus was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Business Executive of the Year Award. “I grew up very simple, very humble where all you wanted to do was help to make a difference,” she said. (Excerpts for this article were taken from Stabroek News, June 8, 2014)

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Gina Arjoon-Hira A Health Economist With A Flair For Indian Culture

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By Yogita John

rowing up, Gina Selina Arjoon was never really interested in economics or finance; her inclination was towards medicine. In High School, even though she did fairly well in all subjects, she opted to study those she did better in - Business subjects. It’s not hard to see why. One of her biggest fears in life is failure and this sometimes impede the things she sets out to do. So Gina decided to pursue what she found she was good at and that led to several accolades. In 2003, she was adjudged Best Graduating Student in Business, Information Technology and Best Overall Academic Performance at School of the Nations. That same year, she was named Most Outstanding Student in the Caribbean for Business Education at Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate. Through studies at the University of Guyana, in 2007, she became the first student to receive the distinguished Professor Clive Y Thomas Prize for the Best Graduating Economics Student. Also, she received the Dr Harold Drayton Alumni Award of the University of Guyana Guild of Graduates, Ontario (2007) In 2010, she became a UK/Commonwealth Scholar and completed an MSc degree in Health Economics from the University of York. For about seven years, GINA she worked on projects that supported the prevention, care and treatment of persons living with HIV. “Doing a job where you see the direct and substantial impact it can make on people’s lives gives you a sense of true satisfaction and would make you want to get up and go to work every single day,” she said. In addition, she was the principal investigator for a Costing Study for Diabetes and Hypertension in Guyana funded and published by PAHO/WHO. “This for me was a milestone, having being able to apply what I learned from my MSc studies in an area that contributed to policy in the Ministry of Health. “This was also one of the first studies of this nature that was done without sourcing Technical Assistance from abroad.” But it was not all smooth sailing. “One of the biggest challenges I’ve had is trying to overcome people who saw me as a threat and untrustworthy in an era of political divisiveness. “I believe in being professional but it’s not always common practice. There have been numerous attempts to stymie the progress I made on the path I chose; but my consistent determination and performance along with the support of my family, former boss and peers led me through.” Apart from her career, Gina is a highly recognized face in the

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world of Indian dance in Guyana and has performed at many events of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha. But she has a confession. “Even though I’ve got a great love for Indian dancing and have done it for over twenty years, I’m not much of a fan of Indian music or movies.” Gina was also a founding member of the youth arm of the Dharmic Sabha - the Dharmic Naujawaan – and she has been a serving executive member for the past 15 years. Gina has some advice for others. “Success is hard and there will be resistance. We often forget to focus on the road we are on and focus on those around us, comparing our progress with theirs. This will drive you insane. “My advice to you is to set your own standards and be committed to achieving them. But be reminded that the amount of degrees and achievements (material) you have do not make you a better person. It’s the number of lives you’ve touched and the number of persons you’ve helped that make you great. How you get there is entirely up to you but strive to be great. Strive to make a difference.”


Kevin Daby

Restauranteur eyes multiple ventures By Naleni Persaud

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is mother escaped the cold winter of Chicago and Kevin Daby was born on January 3rd 1987 in Guyana. After completing his secondary education at Queen’s College, he was then off to Coral Springs, Florida where High School awaited. The prospect wasn’t as alarming to Kevin as it would be to some, for he had been travelling back and forth with family throughout his childhood. However, vacationing and schooling are different. Kevin had some difficulty fitting in, but University was a fresh start. Attending Florida Atlantic University, he attained a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Designs. This was deviating from the path of Hospitality Management that his father had chosen for him. Today, Kevin Daby is the Deputy CEO of his family owned and operated Grand Coastal Hotel located at Le Ressouvenir on the East Coast of Demerara. He has received awards for Creative Designs and Innovation and is an active Rotarian. Kevin has done freelance photography and videography and his talents are stamped on the creative and marketing efforts behind the annual packaging, promotion and hosting of Guyana’s Restaurant Week, a project of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana in conjunction the Guyana Tourism Authority and other stakeholders. When asked where he sees himself in the future he was quick to respond, saying he wants to take the Hotel into the future with more technologically advanced features, get more

involved in Real Estate, start up his own photography and videography project. And on a lighter note, he also wants to settle down with one or two children and travel and see the world. The Harry Potter fan and self-proclaimed nerd says that it is important to have passion, but you need to be smart and understand where your passion is taking you. If it is not logical, then re-evaluate and make changes. Do not disregard the advice and sacrifices made by your parents and grandparents. Work hard now and play later.

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Dr Daniel Ram Researching a cure for HIV/AIDS at Harvard By Alva Solomon

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aniel Ram has been in love with the sciences ever since he was seven-years-old and is known in Guyana for stellar academic achievements over the years. Back in 2003, his face appeared on the front pages when he was named the top student for the CSEC Exams offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council in both Guyana and the Caribbean. By 2009, he had already conquered a degree in Chemistry and Biology. That year, he left these shores in search of a PhD in immunology. That feat conquered, today he is pursuing research at Harvard University with the aim of finding a possible cure for HIV/AIDS. Seated in the study of his father, Dr Chatterpaul Ram, a dentist, the young doctor said that the past seven years have been one of the more challenging periods of his academic life. He was based at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, the option he selected when he had to make a choice after he was also selected to study at the prominent Johns Hopkins University. At Tufts University, the bulk of his studies focused on research, where he zoomed in on a possible injected cure for surgical infections where blood flow is disrupted in a process known as sepsis. He explained that the studies focused on the development of a preventative cure wherein persons with injuries who require surgical procedures can be injected with medicines to prevent the injury from becoming septic. His focus was on mice, and he spent long hours assessing the life of the animals which were injected with proteins and tested for reactions to the various medicinal implants. Although he could not complete the particular area of study

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since his graduation happened this year, he plans to pursue the field. But something else of interest came into the fray for Daniel recently. Recently, he started working at Harvard University’s Centre for Virology and Vaccine Research and research on HIV entered his area of focus. HIV has always been on his mind and finding a possible cure is a definite focal point for him. Barely one week into the job, he was sent to New York to study the use of equipment which he will be seeing very often, given his new area of study. Daniel has also applied for professorial posts at Harvard, a process which carries a waiting period of as long as 10 years. He is no stranger to Harvard, since he had interned there and was tasked with undertaking research in virology and immunology while he read for his BA in Chemistry and Biology at Concordia College in the US soon after he wrote the CXC examinations. He also studied viral mutation and the effect on HIV at the time. He posited that his love for teaching may bring him home, as he noted that he is willing to transfer his knowledge to those who have an interest in the science field here.


Chris and Chanchal Persaud

UMAMI Adding the Fifth Taste to Local Culinary Dishes

The Story of Entrepreneurs Chris and Chanchal Persaud By Kiana Wilburg

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very cook, professional or not, has one thing in common: Creating a dish with a mysterious yet tantalizing flavour. The kind of taste that is original, addictive, it lingers on your mind even after the meal is devoured. Already making their mark in the multimillion dollar industry of flavour engineering is chemist Chris Persaud along with his wife, Chanchal. They aspire to add their bit of “mystery” to the local culinary traditional dishes with their company, Umami Incorporated. They are manufacturers of high end sauces and condiments which can be found in most supermarkets in and around Georgetown or even at the stalls at Bourda or Stabroek Markets. Persaud was born June 26, 1981 and grew up in Cummings Street, South Cummingsburg, Georgetown. As a young boy, he was always fond of the sciences and that passion exhibited itself during his days at St. Margaret’s Primary School, Saint Stanislaus High and even when he did his ‘A’ Levels at Queen’s College. It was no surprise that he would move on to the University of Guyana and successfully graduate with his Degree in Chemistry. “I always had a flair for trying to figure out how to add that secret ingredient or flavour to my food hence I studied food chemistry which enabled me to truly understand how victuals interact with our body. I knew that one day I would want to venture into business studies but chemistry was my priority. My father always told me that a doctor can be a businessman but the reverse cannot happen in a heartbeat and so that is

another reason why I pursued chemistry. Since I started my business, I have just been driven by the desire to master every aspect of it which is why I started my Masters in Economics at Heriot Watt University in London,” Persaud asserted. But his love for chemistry was fashioned by years of experience which he acquired while working with one of the most reputable Caribbean condiments company –Baron Products. He worked there for 10 years moving up the ranks from chemist to respected Board member. He would then move on to work on a similar yet unique company of his ownUmami. Persaud explained that Umami, pronounced ou-mame is Japanese for pleasant, savoury taste. He said that the use of that particular name came about because of his love for the Japanese culture, traditions, their efficiency and discipline in mastering their craft. On all of the 15 bottled condiments that his company produces, there are five circles on the logo, four of which represent sweet, sour, salt and bitter. He said that the fifth circle is the Umami taste. The colours of the logo also represent the national flag, the Golden Arrow Head. The young entrepreneur said that the company was incorporated in May 2013, but actually made its first dollar in November of that year; hence the anniversary of the company is celebrated in that month. “My wife and I consider ourselves true patriots. We love the fact that we have something that is Guyanese and that people in and out of Guyana are able to share in our taste. And it all goes back to my love for creating the things which give food that magical mystery. It is a fulfilling feeling when persons can tell you that they really enjoy the quality of our product. The chemist said that his manufacturing company, though relatively young, has already penetrated markets throughout the length and breadth of the country and after accepting proposals from regional and international markets, the Guyanese product is also represented abroad. He mentioned some of these territories to be Tortola, St. Martin and the United States. He noted that currently, the company has 16 different products with their factory located in Lusignan. Some of these include; pepper sauce, Chinese sauce, blended green seasoning, Bar-B-Que sauce, tomato ketchup, and garlic sauce. Horizons 2017 -

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Dillon Mahadeo Fitness Extraordinaire

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By Avenash Ramzan

he East Coast Demerara village of Mon Repos is best known for having one of the most vibrant markets in the country. On any given Saturday hundreds would congregate at what can be deemed a ‘one stop’ shop, as almost anything you can think of can be found there. A few hundred metres away from this shopping bazaar resides a phenomenal gentleman. His sporting prowess and accolades in 21 short years are slowly beginning to rival the market as the most identifiable figure that is attached to the village. Dillon Mahadeo has been blazing the trail ever since he opted to join a gym in 2013. Given his massive frame and tremendous strength, it’s hard to believe that he just completed his teenage years. His baby face is misleading- he could easily land a role in a romantic Bollywood movie or be the villain in an actionpacked thriller. There is a mellow about him, but don’t be fooled, he can effortlessly switch to beast mode. CHAMPION BOY Born to Doodnauth and Devi Mahadeo on August 19, 1995, Dillon was very athletic during his school years at Mae’s Under-12 Primary and Mae’s Secondary. In fact, he was champion boy throughout his high school years, having competed in the 400 and 200 metre events and Javelin, Shot Put and Discus at the prestigious National Schools Championship. He even played Cricket and Football, swam and later represented Guyana in Table Tennis. “I’m very competitive. I hate losing more than I love winning, so when I train or I set my mind on a goal I like to reach that goal. I like to take small steps in achieving that goal, and when I achieve it I don’t always stop there, I try to get better from there,” Dillon told Horizons.

Living a healthy lifestyle was never a priority, given his inclination to always challenge himself, Dillon ventured into powerlifting, a move that basically set the foundation for the person he is today. Within eight months of taking up the sport, Dillon won his category in a national competition, and his obvious talent was spotted by another fitness fanatic and entrepreneur, Jamie McDonald. Jamie invited Dillon to try Crossfit, a method of training that incorporates varied functional movements performed at high intensity. What awaited him was a rude baptism. “So I went right after my powerlifting competition with all my ego and did my first crossfit workout, and I was crushed to the floor. After about five to 10 minutes of my first crossfit workout I was like ‘I cannot do this.’ I started vomiting. I could have never believed that five minutes of workout could have had me on the floor. Then is when I realised how unfit I was. I was strong, but I was unfit,” Dillon reflected. Jamie, reminiscing on that day, said, “He’s a strong athlete, so I wanted to test his strength and power output. “ “The very next day after my first crossfit training I was the first person at the gym, and I told myself I cannot be defeated by this, and I have to get better, and since then I never looked back,” Dillon stated. STRICT REGIMEN Dillon believes that his success over the years is a direct result of his training method. Since his first competition in 2015- the E-Networks Fitness Challenge- where he copped second overall, Dillon has won the event twice in 2016 and 2017, becoming the first athlete to successfully defend his title. He also won the GTM Fitness Expo twice and the Crossfit Chilli Fitness Trek in the U.S.A, while placing third in the Caribbean at the Crossfit 12-12-12 in Trinidad and Tobago. Training, he pointed out, is the hard part, and competition day is about having fun. Having a balanced diet is also equally important, and Dillon religiously sticks to his eggs, bacon and a portion of fat every morning. Being part of the family business was something that was thrown at him after the passing of his father in December 2015; he gave up aeronautical studies to shoulder the family

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business. It was a huge life changer, as his father was his biggest supporter who wanted him to be a champion athlete and the best version of himself. “Actually in 2015, in my first competition, it was the last event, he saw I was looking very dazed, very tired and like I wanted to give up. The last event was a one mile run. At the halfway mark he actually ran alongside me to keep me going and he was there right through supporting me, motivating me to finish that last event. He was there trying to get me to the finish line, and that is one of the moments I always remember whenever I want to give up in a workout. I would always remember him being there to push me; that’s one of the things that drives me when I feel like quitting,” Dillon highlighted. His mother Devi and siblings (Shaun, Mellysa and Melynda) are pillars of strength, while his girlfriend Sasha Jaikaran is a massive and constant source of encouragement, having never missed an event he competed in. WORK ETHIC Jamie lauded the work ethic of Dillon, “There is no one I’ve seen that can outwork him. Dillon does a lot of research; a very intelligent athlete, he went ahead and had his own Level One certification at Crossfit Headquarters in the U.S. just so that he can learn more about the sport of crossfit.” With consecutive Fitness Challenge titles now under his belt Dillon is aware that his rivals will be upping their game and looking to throw him off his throne.

“They’re all good athletes and they would be training for me next year; they will try to get better, but that doesn’t mean that I will be sitting around waiting for them to catch me- I will be in the gym every day pushing twice as hard as they are,” Dillon remarked. He added, “I’ve always strived to be an inspiration to others. My vision is to set an example to the male Guyanese populace, particularly those of East Indian descent, to post a commendable image of their personal appearance through diet and exercise and to be a more positive and self-confident individual.” With dedicated training, a commitment to a strict diet, and strong family support, Dillon Mahadeo is fast becoming a household name in Guyana. In fact, hardly a day goes by without questions about his tremendous exploits in the field of fitness. “People would be like ‘weren’t you the guy at the Fitness Challenge?’, ‘you’re very strong’, ‘you’re a good athlete’, ‘I want to be like you one day.’ Some people would ask ‘what do you eat, what do you drink?’, ‘what is the secret?’, ‘do you take steroids?’, but none of that...just hardwork and dedication.” In 2016, Dillon embarked on a new journey by becoming registered with the Guyana Amateur Weightifting Association. Later that year he donned national colours at the Pan American Weightlifting Championship in Cartagena, Colombia. His dream is to now make the qualifying mark in weightlifting for a spot at the Olympics. Should that materialise- and there is no reason to believe that it won’t- then Dillon Mahadeo could be the hot topic at that market place.

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Studying Music in India Bath Settlement’s Suraj Balkarran

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he Reepu Daman Persaud Foundation, which was launched over 10 years ago, has been making academic dreams a reality for many Guyanese youths of all ages. Suraj Balkaran of West Coast Berbice was the latest beneficiary of a year’s scholarship to India to study music. Still in India and preparing to return to Guyana soon, Suraj unreservedly expressed his views on his stint in India. “Getting the opportunity to go to India to study music was the fulfilment one of my biggest dreams. Since I came here in June 2016, it has been a constant learning experience. I learnt so much about music, including Bollywood music.” The ebullient young man is noted for his aptitude in music in his village of Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice and is popular at weddings or any musical event there. Extremely talented with the dholak, keyboard and tassa drums, he grew up in a home where his father, a pandit, remarkable Taan singer and musician ensured Suraj’s exposure to culture, religion and the arts. Suraj also gained a platform through the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha and not only performed at many of the Sabha’s events, but also secured first place in a few categories in Dharmic Sabha’s Kala Utsav.

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Although, he was working on the older style of singing in Guyana -Taan and others - India opened the door to Bollywood singing. How did his musical colleagues in the Mumbai react to him? “People were kind of surprised because they think in other countries Bollywood music is not recognized. I explained that it was extremely popular in Guyana. They were also amazed that in spite of not knowing Hindi, we sing Hindi songs, bhajans and Bollywood music. They treated me really warmly and I made many new friends in class.’ Suraj struggled with learning music in a formal structured way as he had learnt music by sound and mainly by experimentation in Guyana. He said: “Learning to read music is a next level, but it is the right way because now I can understand what I am playing. I found it extremely difficult for the first 2 months but when I started reading the music it became easier. So now, when I listen to a song I can break it down note by note and play according to notation and this way it is more accurate. I can also listen to singers now and critique with a trained ear. I am in classroom at least 7 to 8 hours per day and 5 days a week. It has been intense but I love it. I enjoy guitar because before I came I didn't know anything about guitar “Singing was challenging for the first two months but after that, I began to enjoy and get better at it. “I also got the opportunity to play at many shows in India. At


some of these shows, I played guitar, keyboard, dholak, tabla, drums, and octopad. The musicians in India were surprised at my versatility because they know that I did not have any training in Guyana. So, they asked me how come I knew all of these….I told them all I did in Guyana was listen to a song and follow whatever I heard in the song. “I feel that I am coming home so much richer for the experience and will be able to help others who love music. I will be teaching what I learnt so that people will have a better idea about music. My advice to upcoming musicians is to be humble, practise a lot and learn to read the music. “ It was not all study, Suraj ensured that he explored and experienced as much as he could in India. “Aside from my studies, I visited many places and had many wonderful experiences. Visiting the Ganapati temple was mind blowing. All the carvings were handmade. There was also heavy security in the temple and no one was allow to take pictures. I also experienced the different festivals, Navratri, Diwali and the Ganapati festival which was held over a 10 day period and was new to me. “I will miss hanging out with the friends I made and my favourite food – sabji and chapatti." The shopping was good because after the first two weeks everyone got to know me, so I began to bargain and get more deals. His Guru, Ravi Ponkshe of Herambh Music Academy praised him fully; "Suraj has it all..wish, will, passion and dedication. His devotion found direction when he joined Heramb School of Music. In a mere 10 months he learnt 7 different musical instruments!! He is a decent and disciplined boy and I enjoyed teaching him." Keep on shining Suraj..

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EXPLORING

INDIA

The Know India Program

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By Deodat Persaud

was once told that the past, the present and the future can all be simultaneously experienced in India, and my second outing to Mother India proved that. And I am happy to share my experiences, thanks to the Government of India’s “Know India” programme, through which I enjoyed an incredible journey with 39 others from 14 countries. My first adventure was in Kolkata - The City of Joy. Waking up to the aroma of street foods against the backdrop of men and women draped in woolen clothing jostling to compete with the speed and noises of the rickshaws was a sure invitation to explore. Modernity hit me at the airport, but this is the city that relishes in the past of it’s great legends - Rama Krishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekanand, Rabindranauth Tagore and others. Despite, leaving their mortal coils ages ago, their names have been plastered on various structures as a reminder. Our first stop was Belur Math, located on the western banks of the Hooghly (Ganga) River, where Swami Vivekanand consecrated the ground by worshipping the urn containing the sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna. Across the river took us to Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and a devotee of Kali. Murtis of the Goddess can be seen almost everywhere, even in the buses. The immersion in history took us to the House of the Tagores. The many personal items on display from the three different galleries gave glimpses into the versatile world of Rabindranauth and his illustrious brother Abanindranath. Plunging deeper into the inner core of Kolkata, the busy Indian Museum is certainly the best museum I have ever visited in my life. The 35 galleries of cultural and scientific artifacts, including mummies, Mughal paintings and ornaments, is mind boggling. I became an instant fan of the Bengali mask art,

Victoria Memorial Palace, Kolkata

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sensing a connection with the folklore, vivid colors and raw attributes, and I have a strong feeling I will be attempting some designs soon. Kolkata (previously called Calcutta), was established as a result of the British Raj expansion plans. Of interest to me were the East Indian Company, the associated opium trade and Port Calcutta which I learnt about at the Victoria Memorial Palace. Port Calcutta bore witness to the sailing of the first batch of my ancestors on the Whitby to British Guiana on 13 January 1838. I recalled taking a deep breath, struggling to keep my tears, while the tour guide detailed the indentureship movement. Enough of history! I wrapped up my stay Kolkata by visiting Mother Teresa’s tomb, Science City, Mother Wax Museum and the Eden Garden Cricket stadium- the third largest in the world. Confession! I was super proud to see our Guyanese cricketers’ (Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnarace Sarwan, etc.) autographs on display. An eight-hour train ride is not easy, but when you have a willing bunch of Bollywood enthusiasts, even an attempt at recreating the DDLJ train scene, it’s not so rough, and there are no complaints once you reach Darjeeling! Apart from being the land of the muscatel flavoured tea loved by connoisseurs, this is also the place where many Bollywood movies were and are still being filmed. This is the land of the world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, where the century old miniature steam engine still chugs uphill vying for space with the fast disappearing Land Rovers. On visiting the Toy Train, who would not be tempted to reenact Rajesh Khanna’s Mere Sapno ki Rani? No wonder for many this was the highlight of the trip. The peaceful coexistence of Buddhism, Tibetan culture and Hinduism stood out for me. Did I mention the weather shock of experiencing for the first time 5°Celsius? Imagine the feeling of standing at over 7407 feet on Tiger Hill to view the sunrise lighting up the Himalayan Mountains. That’s a travel goal! Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), all the way South, plunges you into the future, and it is easy to connect with the tags


Famous South Indian costume

Birla Laxmi Narayan Temple

Garden City and Silicon City of India, due to its immense contribution in the field of Information Technology and BioTechnology. No trip to Bangalore is complete without having some 'dosas' and 'idli' for breakfast. On Day 12, we arrived for the Bharat Pravasi Divas. The Pravasi is celebrated in India on 9th January to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to India’s development and the day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa on 9 January 1915. The key address on the first day was delivered by the Vice President of Suriname to us, youths, delegates of our countries. Under the theme “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora” Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoked devotion towards India. Many got emotional when he said, “You may have left India, but India will never leave you, your heart beats for India.” The cultural programme held in the evening did immense justice in showcasing the diversity of India’s rich culture. Karnatic music and South Indian dances always leave me begging for more! I cannot exclude the feeling of visiting the Majestic Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Agra. No joke, I took approximately 80 pictures here, trying to perfect each moment. Delhi’s Akshardham Temple-largest temple in the world-is a designer’s masterpiece and its intricacy leaves me to conclude that it was the most beautiful building I’d seen to date. Qutb Minar, a 73 metres rubble masonry minaret, built in the year 1193 speaks to the level of engineering present at that time. India did not stop its engineering drive, being the fast growing economy. Hero’s production plant in Gurgaon of motorcycle every 17 seconds is a record that speaks volume. The works of NGO Prayas has truly impacted all of us, propelling us to take seva to a different level. Enough of PlacesLet’s talk Food! Ever since I had my first meal, I fell in love with the complex flavors and aromas. Every

restaurant had their own pretty assortments of colors that were compelling. Every meal was an adventure. Fortunately, I got to try “authentic” dishes from all over India - from Punjab to Tamil Nadu. My personal favorites include chaat masala tea, biryani, idli, vada, and differently flavored paneer. I dare caution, desserts are irresistible and addictive. No trip to India is complete without shopping, but do not get lost in Chandi Chowk. It everything we have seen in ‘Khabhi Khushi Khabhi Ghum’- congestion, narrow lanes and people everywhere! It’s a shopping paradise and craze together. Some knowledge of Hindi is useful in the bargaining process. The injustice of using the poverty paint brush to cast aspersions on this sacred land is a stain we must erase. The remarkable technological revolution backed by strong spiritual values is allowing India to make quantum leaps in progress. These words cannot stop resonating in my ears-Jai Hind.

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My Experience as the First Guyanese to Attend Acting School in India By: Travez Piaralall

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hat I am about to share are my experiences, moments and memories that I have attained over the last four years, which will stay with me for the rest of my life. One morning I woke up and decided I wanted a change in my life. That very day I made a phone call to a friend of mine and she told me come to the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha's Kendra and so I went, and from there on my journey began. When I went over to Kendra they were rehearsing and preparing for ‘Naya Zamana’ and at that moment I was mesmerized as to how beautiful and graceful the dances were ;these were just the rehearsals and I was impressed. Everyone at the Kendra welcomed me with open arms and I felt very comfortable around them all. I never knew this would have been my new family and the family which helped me to be where I am today. I was given the opportunity to perform in a few dances and short scenes in the upcoming Naya Zamana (2013 Production), which everyone was preparing for. I had no performing experience prior to this so I gave it my best and I took advice from my friends who had years of experience in the performing arts. After several weeks of rehearsals, the big night approached and I was on stage performing my scenes and I didn’t want it to be over because I was enjoying it tremendously. After the show I reflected on the amount of fun I had at the Kendra. This eventually led me to develop a passion for dance and drama. I knew at that time,

As Chiku in Naya Zamana, Guyana

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that I had to be part of the next production. Before Naya Zamana, I danced anywhere music played and I still dance anywhere that has music. In the 2014 production, I was given more dances and scenes which I enjoyed and gained more experience. It was the 2015 production that made a significant difference in my life in theatre, I was cast as one of the main characters for Naya Zamana Receiving certificate from Actor/teacher Anupham Kher –“When Fates Collide.” When Dr. Vindhya Persaud gave me a chance to work in Naya Zamana she pushed me to boundaries that I never touched. I must say thank you Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Ms. Simantini Persaud for believing and working with me. I think thank you is too little to say. In this production, an actor from Canada came to perform. He was also one of the main characters and I became friends with him. He shared with me his acting experiences at the school he attended, Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares Academy, a recognized acting school in India (Bollywood’s lead actress Deepika Padukone attended this school). I found out that hundreds of persons apply and only a few are accepted. Nevertheless, I applied and what do you know, I was accepted. On 1st January, 2016, I embarked on a journey to India, a 23 year old from Guyana chasing a dream. Before going to India, I was warned so much about the place, the food, the water and so much other negative aspects. I made a list and packed two suitcases, one with my clothes and the other with Lysol wipes, pillows, tools, flashlight, medications and prescriptions of all sort, I prepared myself for come what may, I’m here to do what I have to do. Upon arriving in India, it was a different ball game, India was like home, like my Guyana. I have travelled to many countries and I can say confidently; that I never felt at home so long and far away from home. India is great, the food, the chai, the people, the city, Mumbai.


On my first day in class, no one could have pronounced my first name but when I told them my last name ‘Piaralall’ they started to laugh because it meant ‘lover boy’ in Hindi which is correctly spelt (Pyarelal). They also did not know where Guyana was, until I told them about Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan. This motivated me even more as I wanted to put Guyana on the “map”. From My Diary: “Since I started school here, every morning, I get excited as to what I will learn. Every day for me is something new. When it is not acting or understanding the lectures being made, I am becoming better with my Hindi, which was quite challenging for me. Here at the academy, Mr. Kher gives lectures himself and he also invites celebrities to share personal ideas and experiences. Think that is a motivation? I happened to join one of the finest gyms in Mumbai. At the gym, I met and interacted with Shahid Kapoor, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Tiger Shroff and so many more big names in Bollywood; that is a motivation itself to work out among those guys. I have always dreamed about being an actor in Bollywood because of the story, music, dance and today, I feel that I am a step closer. I believe in dreaming big. It all started out so easily and I never expected to be this far. Nothing is impossible in life, it’s what you make of the opportunity and choices that knock on your door. Mr. Anupam Kher’s Acting School, Actor Prepares, has been a wonderful experience so far and I am looking forward to sharing this experience with my family at home and at the Kendra.” I am the first of my family to visit India from where my forefather’s came. Coming here, put lots of questions in my

head - Have I just walked past family of mine? How can I find them? Sometimes when I am alone or at certain places I ask myself if I am dreaming? I am now at a stage of learning and have a far way to go yet, but one little quote I like to stick with is ‘Dream big, work hard and stay humble’. I would like to thank my parents for their support and blessings and Dr. Vindhya and Ms. Simantini Persaud for seeing some sort of potential in me which motivated me to get this far. A big thank you to all my friends at the Kendra for always being there for me. “Khete hain agar cheez ko dil se chaho…to puri kainaat usse tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai. It is saying that if you really desire something from the heart… then the whole universe will work towards getting you that” - (Sharukh Khan, Om Shanti Om dialogue)

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Nachle Designs Thakur Jagbandhan

Preserving Indian culture through unique fashions

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VER the past five decades, a handful of Indo-Guyanese have tried to make a career out of fashion design, but success has been elusive. Now, a young couple is hoping to make their mark, and judging from what they have already accomplished, Nachle Designs could become a trademark in Indian fashion with a Guyanese twist. Bringing together a whirlwind of fabrics, colors, styles, textures and fashion, where the East meets West, Nachle Designs is establishing itself as a unique brand. It is now the only Indian design line in Guyana, offering an alternative to the boutique offerings imported from the India. The brand is the brainchild of Mr. Hashim Alli and Mrs. Melicia Partab-Alli, husband and wife. Bubbly personalities with a passion for the arts, they together hold over two decades of knowledge and experiences in the Indian cultural and entertainment fields in Guyana. Mrs. Alli, an active member of the creative and performing arts arena is always excited about any given opportunity to showcase her rich Indian culture. Her creative and artistic capabilities, together with her passion for fashion, led to the formation of her signature Nachle Designs. On the other hand, Mr. Alli was moved by an unfortunate incident he witnessed while shopping for Indian outfits. One day, he saw the frustration of a mother and son looking for the perfect Indian outfit, but couldn’t find something within their budget. “Son, only if we were rich,” the mother said to the son. This impacted Mr Alli deeply, since it is his belief that everyone deserves the best of Indian traditional wear at an affordable

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Thakur Jagbandhan

Annesa Khan


price. That experience lead him to start the male line of the signature Nachle Designs. The line officially got underway in June 2014 and was launched at a special event called Style Mission, a product of Guyanese fashion mogul Sonia Noel, which was in aid of creating awareness for Sickle Cell Anaemia in Guyana. Mr and Mrs Alli chose Style Mission to launch their brand because of the important purpose it was intended to have in Guyana and they do believe that they both have corporate responsibility in making Guyana a better place. It was at this event that their first line was introduced titled “Nachle – Yours & Hers.” It was a combination of ready to wear Indian pieces for both female and male with a mixture of eastern and western flair and a modern twist. This was an exceptional start since they started receiving many calls and orders which resulted in the Designing line owning an additional five (5) exclusive fashion lines today with their latest being “Prem Ratan”. Prem Ratan, inspired by the hit movie Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, was a dream come

through for the couple. This masterpiece allowed them to use bold colors and rich materials, including velvet and silk, richly embellished with stones, laces, gems etc. This also included the use of a Hijab (Muslim female head wrap) which plays an important role in the Islamic faith. The line received the blessings of the then Minister of Tourism Cathy Hughes and was a signature feature during Guyana’s 50th anniversary celebrations. This year Nachle Designs will launch their 2017 collection titled “Pyar Ki Phool.” This new and well-conceptualized line will create way for the couple’s next project “Dulahin and Dulaha” (Bride and Groom) line, which they hope can be able to lead them to the international stage. Nachle Designs promises to continue their remarkable contribution to society, which has been missing for many years until its birth. Preserving the rich Indian culture and traditions is their ultimate quest and creating a much more reasonable fashion alternative for people is the aim of the mission.

Makeup & Hair: Eye Candy By Mel – Melicia Partab Alli Creative Director: Hashim Alli Photography: Shamer Hescott

Stacy Persaud

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