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Noting that their ancestors did not distinguish among Muslims, Hindus or Christians but lived as brothers and sisters, he pointed to “various attempts” now by people “who don religious garbs trying to divide our people along religious lines.”
The Head of State made the remarks last Saturday when addressing hundreds gathered at the Indian Monument Gardens, Church and Camp Streets, Georgetown, to celebrate the 165th anniversary of the arrival of East Indians in Guyana.
“I want to say to you, whether you pray to Jesus, Krishna or Allah, the culture, the tradition that we bring is stronger than all of the people that are trying to divide us,” Mr. Jagdeo declared.
He challenged the gathering to commit to the fight against division and see that it does not succeed.
The President said everyone is important in the effort and reminded that brotherhood was preached as early as 165 years ago when the first East Indians came here together on ships.
President Jagdeo commented on the richness of Indian culture, as evidenced in the performances and exhibits on display at the venue and said the community should take pride in it.
He said the rich culture is not something to be kept exclusively but should be imparted to others within society, “because, if they understand it better, then we all will have a more harmonious society.”
President Jagdeo admonished his audience to be accommodating and portray oneness and inclusiveness while steadfastly battling racism in this country.
He cautioned East Indians not to translate their culture into racial prejudice against other groups but to also embrace other legacies like charity, dutiful parenting and pureness of thought.
President Jagdeo said the Indian ancestors, even though poor, were charitable and looked out for each other but today parents, especially men, do not take responsibility for their children and many are left in orphanages.
He said this failure, on the part of parents, to provide for their children occurs when the adults see material things as their priority.
Whilst there is nothing wrong in being materialistic and wanting to get rich and be comfortable, there are other values that are much more important, Mr. Jagdeo said.
He criticised parents who do not mould their children but leave them exposed to “the nastiness on the television, the craziness in the newspapers and their personal conversations, which often are focused on gossip and rumours.”
“If we want our children to do well and maintain this culture, then we must mould them today and the only way you can mould them is by exposing them to decent thoughts, by sitting with them and imparting to them the wonderful values of good culture,” the President advised.
Praising the children of Best Village Mandir, on West Coast Demerara, for their performance, he said: “It moves my heart personally, because I know that, years from now, they will be standing here and they will continue to celebrate this rich culture.”