National holiday on Deepavali in Guyana. Picture Credits: Explore Guyana

Guyana declares national holiday on Deepavali

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Georgetown, Guyana: Guyana will grace the festival of Deepavali on Sunday, November 12, 2023, and for this day, the Ministry of Home Affairs declares a day off as a public holiday.

The festival has its roots in the Hindu religion, which symbolizes the victory of light over darkness or the victory of good over evil.

The holiday has been assigned under the provision of Sections 3 (1) and 3 (2) of the Public Holiday Act that, on Monday, November 13, 2023, is hereby declared a public holiday. The section included in Chapter 19: 07 of Laws of Guyana.

Guyana, formerly known as British Guiana, is situated on the northeast coast of South America; it covers an area of 82,978 square miles and has a population of around 7,70,000 people. Out of them, 33 per cent constitute Hindus.

The Co-operative Republic of Guyana marks the celebration of Deepavali every year based on the Hindu Solar calendar. Therefore, the festival is considered as a national holiday in Guyana’s official calendar.

The first indentured people from India introduced this festival to Guyana in 1853, and this tradition is celebrated in the same manner in both countries.

The celebration includes,

  • Decorating the houses with colourful lights
  • Exchanging greetings
  • Cleaning houses
  • Wearing new clothes
  • Distributing sweets and many more

These traditions and customs hold a vitally important role in the lives of the people of Guyana. The act of sharing sweets reflects the importance of serving and sharing. Moreover, greeting cards represent the goodwill of each other.

Some of the most popular sweets which are distributed during Diwali include,

– Barfi

– Kheer

– Pera

Wearing new clothes at the festival has become a tradition which holds great significance for the natives of Guyana. They believe that wearing new clothes symbolizes healthy souls in healthy bodies.

The nationals of the country believe that cleaning and illuminating their houses inside out will open up the doors for the Goddess Lakshmi to bless their lives.

Diwali, a five-day festival:

  • Dhanteras– Dhanteras falls just a day before Deepavali, which is recognized as a lucky day for buying expensive goods, including gold and silver. People also light up the diyas to drive away the negative energy and spirits.
  • Naraka Chaturdashi– On this day, Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura, which symbolizes the end of the year in some parts of India. This day indicates to let go of negativity before the new year begins.
  • Deepavali– Finally, on the third day, the festival of Deepavali is celebrated on the new moon in Kartik. This day holds a lot of importance and also signifies the end of the year in many parts of India. People lit up the candles and diyas to celebrate goodness over evil.
  • Balipadyami– Balipadyami is considered as the first day of the new year in the Vikram Samvat calendar. On this day, people prepare food in abundance and offer it at temples to celebrate the new year and express their gratitude and love to Lord Krishna.
  • Bhai Bij– Bhai Bij, which is famously known as Bhai Dooj, is the fifth and the last day of the festival. This day celebrates and cherishes the unique love and bond between brothers and sisters.