Georgetown, Guyana – (February 14, 2016) Government, through Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally, has pledged to support the Viraat Sabhaa Guyana and to partner with them to enhance lives and foster cohesion.

Minister Ally made this commitment last evening at the official launch of the Viraat Sabhaa Guyana at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Liliendaal. The Viraat Sabhaa Guyana is a Hindu movement with a mandate to support and promote Hinduism in Guyana, while also serving and empowering persons from all faiths, even those who espouse no religious beliefs, to live balanced lives.

Minister Ally congratulated the group on its official opening, noting that its mandate to create a perfect balance for citizens of Guyana, through spiritual and secular sciences, is in keeping with Government’s policy to bridge inequalities and enhance lives. “I believe, your motto, ‘the Universe is one Family’ is quite a neat fit with what the Government of Guyana is advocating, and with the Ministry of Social Cohesion’s mandate,” Minister Ally said.

The Sabhaa’s motto is also very similar to Government’s position on Guyana’s development. “You have a rapidly growing network with initiatives in various aspect of human and social development,” the Minister said, referring to some of the outreach programmes that the Sabhaa has embarked on over the past months. She noted that these initiatives were all directed at addressing key social issues, including abuse, alcoholism and suicide.

Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally delivers her remarks at the official launch of the Viraat Sabhaa Guyana.

Common purpose

Minister Ally commended the group for their efforts to date, particularly since its programmes have benefited citizens from all walks of life. “All of your programmes target a wide cross section of communities, and are not confined to a particular group and that is a welcomed approach because Guyana is a diverse society. It is groups like yours that is setting the stage for the smooth implementation of the Government’s social cohesion programme; your programmes are designed to meet [the]needs of individuals, singularly and in groups and that is highly commendable,” she said.

The Minister also applauded Viraat Sabhaa Guyana’s plans to expand to new geographical areas and to start a number of innovative initiatives to foster development, noting that Government is pleased to be associated with groups that are keen to try novel ideas to meet this goal. Drawing a nexus between these types of collaboration, the Minister said the Administration’s mission and programme since it took office eight months ago is to ensure that all Guyanese experience a good life.

“I see this is also where your emphasis lies… We want every Guyanese to experience this, and as you have extended the right hand of friendship to the Government for collaboration and partnership, we likewise openly extend our hand to you [in this endeavour] as there is a commonality of purpose,” Minister Ally said.

Underscoring the critical role of religion in human and social development, Minister Ally said the Government also recognises its importance to nation building. With this in mind, she said, the Administration is encouraging the various religious groups to interact to provide scope for development plans for the religious community.

Collaborative effort

Even as she outlined her Ministry’s mandate to address exclusion and marginalisation in Guyana, Minister Ally said through collaborative effort the goal is to foster a sense of belonging and promote upward mobility in Guyana for all. “I don’t believe we can do this in isolation; we need the religious community, civil society and all other key stakeholders in this process,” the Minister said. “This Government has the will we need for social cohesion, but we cannot do it alone, when groups like this approach us, we are encouraged.”

Meanwhile President of the Viraat Sabhaa – Guyana, Pandit Rabindranath Persaud said the Sabhaa was initiated through the commitment, dedication and support of its devout followers. “In a changing world, policies and principles have to be adjusted to accommodate such changes. Old clichés and phrases are uncommon to the modern mind,” Pandit Persaud said. With that in mind, Pandit Persaud noted that the Sabhaa willingly recognised that there was an urgent need to create a new epoch, and as such, leaders and pandits from the various Mandirs from the East Coast of Demerara, collaborated their efforts to introduce the change. In 2008, the organisation established itself with the first national Pitri Pasksh programme at the Lusignan Tarmac, East Coast Demerara which attracted thousands.

He added that the organisation felt compelled to provide a link between those whom had selflessly sacrificed their lives for a better Guyana and those who are prepared to pool their energies and other resources to secure a worthy environment for all. “Our motto ‘The Universe is One Family; demonstrates the deep concern to create a well knitted society in which all could co-exist. The Sabhaa firmly believes that the Universe is One Family and every effort should be made to set and sustain that standard, we cannot ignore the principles advocated in our Sacred Scriptures,” Pandit Persaud said. He added that the organisation is open to work with any other agencies, religious groups, NGOs and the State to enhance opportunities for all.

The Viraat Sabhaa, via its National Network, has already created an impact on the Hindu population by expanding its programmes across the regions.

Recently, a contingent of over 100 ambassadors of the Sabhaa visited the Essequibo Coast for a grand Satsangh (seminar) at the Lima Mandir. Many other Satsanghs and seminars were held in other communities to establish and strengthen its relationship with all members of the society. The Viraat Sabhaa’s office is situated at 169 Peter Rose and Crown Streets, Queenstown in the same building which accommodates the Valmiki Vidyalaya High School. The Sabhaa’s Office is open from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm weekdays.

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