H. E. President David Granger: Thank you, Madam Chairperson; Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, and Mrs Sita Nagamootoo; Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams and Mrs. Williams; Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin; former Prime Minister, Mr. Samuel Hinds; former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall; members of the National Assembly, High Commissioner of India and members of the diplomatic corps; distinguished invitees, citizens of Guyana, citizens of India, members of the Hindu society, members of the media, beautiful dancers, brothers and sisters, Happy Holi to all of you. You know what I was doing 18 hours ago? I was starting my Holi celebrations and 48 hours from now all Guyana will be in the midst of its Easter celebrations.
The proximity of the two festivals signifies perhaps, not only a seven day holiday, because some people who went home last night, Tuesday night, intend not to go back to work before Tuesday morning. So it’s a good excuse, High Commissioner, to arrange to have this festival and, of course, we’ll be having Easter soon afterwards but the coming together of these two festivals suggests to us that we are really one people, we are really one world, one humanity because today we are celebrating the triumph of good over evil and the story of Prahalad – which has been recounted both by the High Commissioner and by the former Minister of Legal Affairs – is a story of triumph and it is worthy of celebration. And of course forty eight hours from now we’ll be celebrating the resurrection of Christ, the most sacred festival in the Christian calendar. Yes, I agree with you, the most sacred festival in the Christian calendar, the resurrection of Christ after his descent and after his crucifixion to show that good triumphs over evil.
So I’m very happy to be here for that reason. Of course this is the festival of colours and, as has been said before, it is a festival for all Guyanese. It is no longer purely a Hindu festival, it is a festival of joy and I’m glad to see that there is one dance troupe. I’m sure that it would be difficult for people of Indian origin to recognize which part of India they’re from; but I had the experience personally, forty-five years ago or thereabouts, when my hair was not the colour it is today, to be in New Delhi and to see a cultural display by persons of Indian origin from different parts of that subcontinent; and there you saw the diversity of the Indian people and today, as the High Commissioner pointed out, there are diverse legends and stories, all of them pointing to the sacredness and, of course, the uniqueness of this important ceremony.
The other thing I’d like to mention very briefly, because this is not a day for long speeches, is that I would like to hope (High Commissioner) that ceremonies such as this are not only confined to the Indian Cultural Centre here in Georgetown, but this festival – and you know there’ll be people all over Guyana celebrating with abeer and water and having fun today – we should take this festival. I gave this message to the troupe, last night, which introduced Chowtaal once again to the lawns of State House. I know it was there before and I committed myself to making sure that every year the lawns of State House would be available to the Chowtaal singers.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to display my skills as I did last night but this is a festival for all of us. As Guyanese we should need to understand each other much better and to share in the joy of this festival of colours, the joy of the triumph of good over evil, the joy of coming together without inhibitions and loving and caring for one another.
Happy Holi to all of you! On behalf of the Government of Guyana, I’d like to extend Holi, particularly to the Hindus, but to all Guyanese people. I’d like to say have fun, as the High Commissioner said, without malice, without causing discomfort or injury to anyone and continue celebrating all the way to Tuesday morning; but please go to work on Tuesday morning.
Happy Holi to all of you!