Navratri on East Bank Demerara and Gtown, Guyana
Navratri, nine days of fasting by Hindus, is being observed all over Guyana and around the globe. This writer has been visiting mandirs on the coast of Guyana during this auspicious period – on Wednesday evening at the Mandir at Herstelling and the temple at Alexander Village in Georgetown and other mandirs on Monday night (Better Hope) and Tuesday night (Lusignan).
The pundits at all the mandirs gave very eloquent explanations of the festival. They also sang bhajans masterfully accompanied by Indian music (harmoniums, dantaal, table, jaal, dholak, daantaal, among others). Several worshippers also sang bhajans.
As the pandits explained, Navratri is the holiest period in the Hindu calendar. It is nine days of fasting and nine nights of Ramayana katha. Almost every mandir in Guyana and in America, aming Guyanese Hindus, has been conducting nightly Ramayana discourse followed by aartee, distribution of Prasad, and take out bhojan. In addition to nightly worshipping at the mandirs, people performed rituals at home including offering of jaal and puja katha or jhandi as it is called in Guyana.
The festival commenced last week Wednesday (some mandirs started Tuesday evening) evening and concludes this Thursday night (Oct 14) followed by Vijay Dashami or a tenth day of celebrations called “Dussehra”. Every mandir will also host Dussehra celebrations which signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness.
Navratri is dedicated to the worshipping of the Devis or females aspects of the Supreme Lord. They come in the forms of three Goddesses – Durga (power, strength, courage) or the Universal Mother, Lakshmi (light and wealth) and Saraswati (knowledge, education, the arts). These three combine into health, wealth and prosperity. Worshippers make varied forms of offerings.
Navratri and other Indian festivals have been brought to Guyana by the indentured ancestors some 183 years ago and they have remained continuous till this day. Guyanese Hindus have introduced the celebration and observance of these festivals wherever they have migrated including in several Caribbean islands and North America and Europe. Hindus from Fiji introduced the Indian festivals in Australia and New Zealand and in parts of western United States and western Canada where they are mostly settled.
Read More Articles From Dr. Vishnu Bisram
Please send your letters, articles, photos and short videos to this free online Indo-Caribbean paper: firstname.lastname@example.org