Diwali – A festival that attracts youth participation

Youths from a Mandir performing live Tassa drumming in front of their float.

By Indrawattie Natram

DIWALI, the festival of lights is a much anticipated Hindu festival celebrated by youths across Guyana. It is a festival that many young people look forward to participating in, especially at the annual motorcade which is hosted by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha. Interestingly, youths from across Guyana would eagerly await the dates for the motorcade to be announced by the Sabha to commence constructing their floats that will make up the motorcade.

Young people involved in the making of a float

Construction for the floats would commence two weeks before the actual parade. The Pepperpot Magazine conducted several interviews with youths across Region Two and the feedback was positive. At Golden Fleece Vishwa Jhotir Mandir, young people were excited as the day drew closer for them to display their float. The Golden Fleece Mandir for four years has managed to cop the top position at the Sabha’s motorcade with their intricating designs.

Designer for the Golden Fleece Mandir float, Vishnu Mahadeo, said that every year young people look forward to spending time helping to design the structure. He said that it is amazing what many minds can do. “We never know what really we building but after sitting together and making suggestions, we always come up with beautiful ideas. The motorcade attracts youth participation and every year more and more youths getting involved,” Mahadeo said.

Some of the youth that are involved in the making of the Golden Fleece float

He said that he has gained much knowledge after years of participation in the motorcade. “The experience I have gained is wonderful, it’s so good to work with youths every year and the best feeling is to hear your Mandir [has] emerged the winner at the end of the motorcade competition. Hard work always pays off,” he said.
Mahadeo and his young volunteers started to make their motorcade design two weeks ago, and every night scores of youth flocked the mandir compound to get the float organised. The older folks were also busy assisting.

Like Mahadeo, Mahindra Sharma from the Spring Garden Mandir echoed similar sentiments. Sharma said that every year the young people would be asking when the date is decided for the motorcade. Sharma said once the date is finalised then the work begins. He admires the determination of his young helpers during the festival. Last year, too, the youths from Spring Garden travelled to Georgetown to display their float. “Even though we didn’t cop first, we still wanted Guyana to see our design so we opted to participate and we travelled with our motorcade to the West Coast and to Georgetown,” one of the young volunteers said.

Flashback : The Golden Fleece Mandir was last year’s winner of the Essequibo Coast annual Diwali Motorcade

Sursattie Singh from the Reliance Mandir, also said that young people in that area are determined every year to participate. She said that it is not about winning but when a motorcade leaves the community everyone from the Reliance Village is proud of the creation. Singh said young people would help and as the competition nears, more would join.

Two young ladies from the Golden Fleece Mandir dressed as Mother Lakshmi last year.

“It’s all selfless service to promote and maintain the Hindu culture and tradition. Diwali is a time youth look forward to. It’s a time when research is done at length to come up with amazing ideas about the festival. It’s a wonderful feeling to see the type of creativity that is put forward at the motorcade every year,” Singh said.

Other young people have shared similar sentiments and have thanked the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha for hosting the motorcades, as a way of ushering the Festival of Diwali. Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights and is celebrated annually in Guyana. It is a festival that honours the Hindu goddess Mother Lakshmi who is the giver of health, wealth and prosperity. In observing the festival on the night of Diwali, diyas are lit and placed around the homes since it is believed to be the darkest night of the year.