President David Granger: Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards; Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Dr. Barton Scotland; Ministers of the Government; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Members of the National Assembly, especially our singing M.P. Charrandass Persaud from East Canje, sometimes moonlighting as an attorney-at-law; religious leaders; special invitees; artistes, particularly artistes; members of the media; fellow Guyanese:
Tonight, I feel very proud, very happy to be Guyanese. I think you all feel the same way too. A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the Chinese New Year. Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating more or less, the Hindu New Year and a few weeks from now we’ll be celebrating Easter, which is a sort of New Year.
Spring festivals, they all celebrate the colours; they all celebrate the end of winter; they all celebrate the start of a new phase of life and over the last couple of weeks, you know, I’ve been to so many communities. Yesterday, I was in a Carib community and the Toshao had to interpret, had to translate for me because half of the congregation there couldn’t speak English; they only spoke Carib. And a little earlier, I was at the Warrau community and some schoolchildren don’t speak English, they only speak Warrau and I was in an Arecuna community, an Akawaio community, Wapishana community just within the space of a fortnight or so.
It shows you the complexity of Guyana. Guyana is not a simple place at all and what we saw today is part of the Guyanese tradition. The Hindus brought this festival, the singing, the dance, a hundred and eighty years ago. In fact, in May we’ll be celebrating the hundred and eightieth anniversary of Indian arrival and festivals like this help to foster cohesion, foster respect, foster understanding and I just wish that this was not just a coastal performance, but people in all parts of the country could see DVDs to understand, you know, what the Guyanese nation is all about.
So I’m very happy; I thank you for coming, particularly, I thank the artistes who’ve come here. As I said, on the 16th of May, Saturday the 16th of May 2016, I’m President for all of Guyana and those of you were here in November would have seen the diyas. There were Christian ceremonies, there were Hindu ceremonies and some secular ceremonies but this ceremony particularly, is both secular and spiritual. Spiritual, as you heard from the pandit; it’s the festival which celebrates the life, the survival, the triumph of Prahalad and secular in the sense that it brings us all together.
So thank you for coming. Happy Holi!