• 24 Jun, 2024

Indo-Caribbean Hindus at World Hindu Conference 2023 Thailand

Indo-Caribbean Hindus at World Hindu Conference 2023 Thailand

Indo-Caribbean Hindus at World Hindu Conference 2023 Thailand

Several Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbean Hindus, including this writer, are participating at the quadrennial World Hindu Congress being held in Bangkok on November 24 to 26 at Impact Convention Center, just outside of the sprawling modern city of skyscrapers. Over two thousand delegates have registered for the three-day conference coming from dozens of countries. In addition to Guyanese, several delegates also come from neighboring Suriname and Trinidad and the Caribbean Hindu diaspora in North America and England. The last global Hindu confabulation was held in 2017 in Chicago where dozens of Guyanese were participants. Because of Covid, the WHC was delayed from 2021 to now. World Hindu conferences were previously held in Trinidad and Suriname but not in Guyana as yet. A Hindu conference is in the making for the latter half of 2024.

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India, Thailand, and other Southeast Asia nations share common Dharmic and cultural values. Thailand was chosen for this year’s WHC because the country shares several Hindu practices and organizers had committed to changing region for every WHC. Thailand is a Buddhist nation with a significant number of Hindus and people who also embrace Islam and Christianity. Buddhists embrace many practices of Hinduism.

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The theme of the WHC 2023 is “Dharma, the Abode of Victory”. Seven parallel thematic sessions are planned “to articulate the values, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Hindus in all its vibrance and glory will constitute this WHC”, say, organizers.

The organizers of the WHC say it is held “to provide space to discuss and deliberate upon the opportunities and challenges facing Hindus across the world and how to address them valiantly. It will also focus on areas of strategic importance to Hindus and provide avenues for collaboration among Hindu leaders, activists, and thinkers for the Hindu resurgence”.
The conference also provides opportunities for Hindus “to network, exchange ideas, work confidently and model their future course of action”.

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Scheduled to address the conference are the Prime Minister of Thailand, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from where the bulk of Caribbean Hindus trace their roots, the head of Hindus in India (Sarsangachalak) Shri Mohan Bhagwat, and other prominent leaders. Guyanese and other Caribbean nationals are due to make presentations, especially in the areas of education, politics, business, and challenges facing Hindus in the region.

Dr Vishnu Bisram

Dr Vishnu Bisram is Guyanese born who received his primary and secondary education in Guyana and tertiary education in the US and India. He is a fourth generation Indian. His great grandparents from both his mother and father’s sides were born in India -- Gurbatore from Ghaizpur, Amru from Azamgarh, Sau from Chapra, Mangri from Mau, Bhuri and Bhura Singh from Bharatpur, among others. They all came at different times to then British Guiana (1880s and 1890s) to work on sugar plantations as indentured laborers. After serving ten years, they were freed laborers. They remained on the colony rather than returned to India, married and had children. They used the savings from indentureship to purchase landholdings to cement their ties to their adopted land. They were not given free land. Vishnu Bisram is ninth of twelve children of Gladys and Baldat, rural farmers, she also was a seamstress and he a taylor and they attended to a kitchen garden as well. Vishnu attended the St Joseph Anglican (called English) primary school from 1966 to 1972. In 1972, he passed the annual nationwide Common Entrance exam winning a scholarship place to attend the government Berbice High School in New Amsterdam, some 17 miles from his home village of Ankerville, Port Mourant. He declined the placement scholarship and opted instead for the private Chandisingh High School to which his family pad to pay a tuition. He entered for eight subjects at the Cambridge University Exam in 1977. Vishnu migrated to the USA in 1977 to further his studies. He enrolled at the City College of City University of New York September that year at age 17, studying Bio-Chemistry and also completing a major in Political Science. After his BSc in Bio-Chem, he pursued graduate studies in International Relations earning a MA. He went on to complete multiple post graduate degrees including doctorates in Economics, Sociology, History, Political Science and Educational Administration. Dr Bisram taught for over forty years in various subjects in the US. He also served as a newspaper reporter and columnist for over four decades and is a well-known pollster in the Caribbean region. He is a specialist on the Indian diaspora traveling extensively around the globe to research and write about Indian communities. He published countless articles on various subjects in the mass media, journals, and books. He also organized international conferences on the Indian diaspora and presented papers at many conferences. He was a guest lecturer at universities in Mauritius, India, Fiji, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, USA, and other countries. He is a well regarded political analyst on American and Caribbean politics. He makes him home in Guyana, Trinidad, and America and travels frequently to India.