Ill-advised to change date for Mash
Guyana Chronicle
January 14, 2002

In the local news media, I read that the South Asian (Indian) community in Guyana are lobbying to have the annual Mashramani Street parade deferred to another day. This they argue is due to a Muslim observance day coinciding with the street carnival this year.

Interestingly though, while calling for religious tolerance from the Christian Community, the Muslim leaders insist on discrediting and demonising the Mashramani celebration. This criticism demonstrates an extreme lack of tolerance and hypocrisy on their part. It also unfortunately creates an image of superiority, smugness and has dangerous racial overtones.

It is important to note that the Mashramani Street parade and all carnivals in the Caribbean and South Americas are based on a long African tradition.

Street Carnivals were created after the emancipation of slavery in these regions and were introduced as a celebration of the freedom gained by the African Slaves. Consequently, this festive jubilee has significant emotional and historical meaning, specially for the African-Guyanese Peoples. By

criticising and minimising it's importance the Muslim community is demonstrating a tremendous disrespect and should apologise publicly.

Furthermore, in contrast to the Muslim Observance day in question, Mashramani is a fixed date and has been so for decades. Since the Muslim observance day already floats, it would seem prudent to defer that instead to another day.

I know dozens of overseas-based Guyanese who have planned to visit Guyana for the Mashramani Street carnival. Therefore, it would be ill-advised to change the date at the ninth hour, especially since the Government is keen on promoting tourism.
Berkeley Van Bowen