Guyana, formerly known as British
Guiana, is located on the northeast coast of South America. Guyana is 82,978
square miles in area and has a population of about 7,70,000. Hindus
constitute 33% of Guyana's total population. The Co-operative
Republic of Guyana in Southern America celebrates Diwali according to the
Hindu Solar calendar. The day of the Diwali festival is declared as a
national holiday in the official calendar of Guyana.
The tradition of celebrating the Diwali festival is believed to have been
brought to Guyana in the year 1853 by the first indentured people from
India. The legends related to the festival are similar to that of India. The
celebration of the festival includes, distribution of sweets, illuminating
the inside and out side of the house, exchange of greetings, cleaning of
houses and wearing of new clothes. The celebrations hold special
significance for the people of Guyana. The distribution of sweet signifies
the importance of serving and sharing whereas exchange of greeting cards
denotes the goodwill of each other. The sweets distributed mainly consist of
mithai, pera, barfi, and kheer.
The tradition of wearing new cloth for the people of Guyana is significant
especially in Diwali festival. They believe that wearing new cloth is the
symbol of healthy souls in healthy bodies. Cleaning of their homes and
keeping them well illuminated in and outside is a practice meant to
illuminate the road for Goddess Lakshmi so that while
goddess Lakshmi visits their home she faces no problem of light as the
Diwali night is regarded as the darkest night of the year.