Guyana — Festivals and Events
Most of Guyana’s public holidays are religious in nature and some (like Christmas and Easter) are familiar to international travelers. The population is made up of mix of Muslims, Hindus and Christians, with each faith having its own customs, adding to the diversity to the festivities. There are secular and cultural festivals as well throughout the year.
This Amerindian word translates to a "celebration of a job well done." Republic Day, February 23, commemorates the birth of the republic. Mashramani is one of the most colorful celebrations in Guyana and you can expect float parades, dances, masquerades, bands, and costume competitions.
Every March, the Hindus of Guyana observe this religious holiday to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Hindus wear white and throw abeer (a type of red liquid or dye) at one another to symbolize the blood of King Kiranya, a tyrannical ruler who was burned alive by his son, Prince Prahalad, for all the suffering he inflicted upon the people. Water, perfume and powder are also thrown at neighbors, friends and family. This fun and good-natured celebration is also enjoyed by non-Hindus.
A Christian holiday that celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the festivities begin on Easter Sunday and last until Easter Monday. Kite competitions are held almost everywhere.
This is a Muslim festival that celebrates the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth and death. Special services are held in mosques and religious programs are aired on TV. Youman Nabi is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi al-Awwal on the Muslim calendar. The date changes yearly.
Also known as Divali, Deepavali is one of the most colorful and exciting festivals in Guyana. The "Festival of Lights" is celebrated by Hindus in either late October or the first week of November. It lasts four days and commemorates Rama, a Hindu hero from the Ramayana, the holy book.
An important time of the year for Muslims, the "Feast of the Sacrifice," is a religious holiday that lasts for four days and honors Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his first-born son, Ishmael to God.
Christmas is another important Christian festival in Guyana. Locals clean their houses and make repairs in preparation for Jesus Christ’s birth. Black cake is served along with garlic pork, pepperpot, and ginger beer. The church holds services on Christmas Day.
St. Stephen’s Day (December 26) in Guyana is referred to as Boxing Day. This national holiday commemorates the Christian martyr who was stoned to death. In rememberance, people partake in all kinds of rough games and sports. Boxed gifts are customarily given to friends and relatives. Locals also celebrate Boxing Day by picnicking and attending parties and social events.