The sacred and joyous festival of Phagwah is once again upon us. The First Lady and I and our son, Zayd, join the Government, in extending heartfelt greetings to all Guyanese, at home and abroad, on this joyous occasion.

While Phagwah is a Hindu festival, brought here by the Indian indentured immigrants, it now enjoys universal appeal. Guyanese from all cultural backgrounds join their Hindu brothers and sisters in celebrating this blissful festival.

Phagwah is observed in Guyana with an explosion of colours and with effusive cheerfulness and merriment. The sprinkling, showering and smearing of coloured powder on others’ faces and garments are symbolic of the inclusive character of this lively festival, one in which distinctions based on race, religion and class are blurred.

In this regard, Phagwah reminds us that despite the differences, we are all part of a common human family that inhabits our planet. As such, we must continue to promote harmonious relations with each other, mindful that in doing so we will create the conditions that will continually yield a bountiful harvest of benefits to be shared by all.

Nature has bestowed our country with an abundance of natural resources. Guyana is perhaps the most endowed country in the Caribbean. Your government is developing these resources for the benefit of all. It is pursuing a path of development in which no one will be excluded or left behind. Prudent policies are being promulgated to ensure the sustainable exploitation of our natural resources and to enhance our people’s knowledge and skills to allow them to better participate in our burgeoning economy.

We are a nation forged out of a history of struggle. We are not daunted by challenges. We are imbued with a tenacious spirit in overcoming adversity. Through hard work, diligence and sacrifice and with the right policies we can each carve out a secure future for ourselves and for future generations.

As we move forward, towards a more inclusive and equitable future in this glorious land of ours, let us not allow the impediments of division, mistrust, mischief and hatred to derail our country’s rapid development.

As we celebrate Phagwah with an outpouring of fervour and joy, love and with kindness in our hearts, may we commit to holding each other’s hands and moving forward together united and free towards that rewarding future which lies ahead!

Happy Holi to all!