Indian Arrival Day is celebrated each year on 5th May. The East Indians who arrived came largely from the Uttar Pradesh and Southern Indian regions of India. The first ship to arrive in British Guiana – Whitby – sailed from Calcutta (now Kolkata) on 13th January 1838 with 249 immigrants and, after a voyage of 112 days, landed on 5th May 1838. This began their indentureship experience.
This year marks the 182nd anniversary of the arrival of Indians in our country. Nearly 240,000 Indians immigrated to British Guiana between 1838 and 1917 when indentured immigration ended. The majority of immigrants opted to remain and to make the country their home.
Indian religious rituals, cuisine, customs and traditions enriched the country’s cultural mosaic. Indian enterprise diversified the local economy. Indian descendants ventured successfully into politics and were active in social organizations and in sport.
Indians have achieved prominence in all aspects of national life. They cultivated respectful relations with other races and, in so doing, fostered the development of a more cohesive nation. They are an integral part of the political system and, together with other ethnic groups, contributed to the evolution of Guyana’s demography, economy and society.
Guyana pays tribute to the contribution of Indian indentured immigrants and their descendants. I extend best wishes to all Guyanese on the occasion of Indian Arrival Day.
President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana