HUNDREDS of Guyanese, Trinidadians and others attended an unveiling ceremony, on Sunday, of a street co-named in New York after a well-known Guyanese pandit, the late Ramlall Way.
The street, at the corner of 133rd and Liberty Avenue, is now officially known as ‘Pandit Ramlall Way’; the city’s map will now be so reflected. The ceremony took place a block away under a huge tent on the compound of a vacant lot owned by Pandit Ramlall’s Mandir; he named it the ‘Dr. Cheddi Jagan Square’. Although ten years his junior, Ramlall was an associate of Dr. Jagan in the independence freedom struggle. Pandit Ramlall was well known in New York among politicians and Indo-Caribbean community leaders. Pandit Ramlall hailed from Skeldon in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). Born in February 1928, he died January 2019.
He was self-taught in Hindi, a subject he taught at the Tagore Memorial School in Berbice. He joined Dr Cheddi Jagan in the struggle for Guyana’s independence and was arrested for defying unjust British laws. Pandit Ramlall was head of the Arya Samaj movement in Upper Corentyne. He left Guyana in 1974 to study Hindi at a university in India where he received a diploma. He returned to Guyana in 1975 and taught briefly while propagating the Arya Samaj faith.
He migrated to the USA in 1979, working at a hospital in Brooklyn. He also served as a trade unionist, organising workers at the hospital.
In New York, Pandit Ramlall was active in the Arya Samaj movement; he helped found two Arya Samaj Mandirs and played a role in the formation of the Confederation of Arya Samaj Mandirs. He was also closely involved in the launch of the Phagwah parade and Ramayana in the Park. Pandit Ramlall was an accredited pandit and performed or officiated at wedding ceremonies of many Guyanese, Trinidadians, and nationals from India.
Fellow Berbician, Ashook Ramsaran, led the campaign to co-name the street after Pandit Ramlall; he prepared a detailed petition and proposal that was presented by Councilwoman for the District, Adrienne Adams. Fellow Guyanese, Patricia Jordon-Langford and Naro Balli contributed to the petition.
Pandit Ramlall, though Guyanese, was a multi-nationalist, respected in several countries for his contributions to Hindi, Hinduism, and the Ramayana. Several individuals delivered tributes at the ceremony, including family members, associates, politicians and heads of organisations.