Diwali Celebrations in Guyana

This page was first published on the 26th of October, 2016 and last updated on the 2nd of January, 2017 by Patrick Carpen.

Diwila is a festival of lights celebrated by Guyanese every year. The day is observed as a national holiday for the Guyanese people. The exact date of Diwali is not fixed but the holiday falls around the month of October each year.

Diwali is called the “Festival of Lights” for good reason. During the evening of the Diwali festival, diyas are set alight. Diyas are tiny lamps made out of clay and fitted out with a wick. The diya is fueled by oil, and it burns for about 4 to 6 hours before going out.

Diwali is a Hindu holiday. During Colonial days, when the British ruled Guyana, the plantation owners contracted East Indians to work as laborers on the sugar plantations. Most of these East Indians were Hindus and some were Muslims. Upon arrival in Guyana, many East Indians converted to Christianity through British influence, but others retained their religion and culture. On a Diwali evening, the boundless quantities of diyas scattered across the whole country lights up the fact that the Hindu religion and tradition is very much alive in Guyana.

On the evening of the Diwali night, Hindus bring out their diyas and line them up on benches outside of the yard, along verandah rails, on the fences, along the passageways to the gates and even along the roadways. As soon as darkness falls, the diyas are fired up. The spectacle of diyas on a Diwali night is breathtaking, and many families of all religions and cultures would cruise across the country to view this rare and splendid sight.

But what is the story behind Diwali? I do not know much about it; but I was told that it has something to do with a Hindu god and goddess being separated from each other. On Diwali nights, the Hindus are thought to be helping the Hindu god Ram, find his beloved goddess Seeta.

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