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Guyana celebrates arrival of Indians

President Jagdeo said Indians, who came to Guyana 168 years ago, brought with them a rich culture.

india Updated: May 10, 2006 11:33 IST

Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo has called upon the Indian diaspora in this Caribbean nation to draw strength from their fore-parents since they persevered despite coming here under very harsh conditions.

Jagdeo was speaking at the Cultural Mela and Family Fun Day organised by the Indian Arrival Committee (IAC) at the National Park here to mark the 168th anniversary of the arrival of Indians to this country.

Jagdeo said Indians, who came to Guyana 168 years ago as indentured labourers, brought with them a rich culture, which has contributed positively to moulding the country's heritage.

He said the culture that was brought to Guyana by Indians is not just about singing and dancing.

"Don't think it is about the singing and dancing only. There is a serious nature to our culture...we celebrate here with singing and dancing, but in the philosophy brought to our country, there is struggle and perseverance; and in difficult times we must demonstrate those characteristics," the Guyana Chronicle newspaper quoted him as saying.

People of Indian origin comprise 50 per cent of Guyana's population of over 750,000. The first batch of Indians arrived as indentured labourers to work in sugar plantations here May 5, 1838.

Hence May is the month when the Indo-Guyanese celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of their forefathers. The Georgetown cultural fair was the third in the series of such fairs organised by the IAC this year.

The president also urged the younger generation to respect other people's cultures, since each group in multi- religious, ethnic and cultural Guyana must be allowed to celebrate their legacy as a proud people.

Referring to the killing of Guyana's agriculture minister Satyadeo Sawh and other members of his family recently, Jagdeo urged the gathering not to allow fear to paralyse them and added that they must brace themselves for lots of threats and violence in the run up to the general elections in the country later this year.

Mentioning that a few groups in society were bent on creating fear through violence, Jagdeo said: "If we allow them to succeed, then future generations would judge us harshly."

This is the fourth year in succession that IAC has celebrated the anniversary of the arrival of Indians to Guyana.