Hundreds of persons turned up yesterday at Highbury, East Bank Berbice to celebrate the 178TH Anniversary of the arrival of indentured labourers from India.
The event which was organised by the Berbice Indian Cultural Committee saw a rich cultural programme. A depiction of the MV Whitby, one of the ships that brought the first batch of Indian immigrants to British Guiana was on show. There were also skits, dances, songs, quaseedas as well as tassa drumming.
In the audience were Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatachalam Mahalingam; Region 6 Chairman, David Armogan; Regional Executive Officer, Veerasammy Ramayya; Member of Parliament, attorney at law, Charrandas Persaud and former Member of Parliament, Ravi Dev, who was the guest speaker.
Armogan stated that in order for the country to move forward everyone must be united, “We have a duty to work in unity”. He said tribute should also be paid to the different ethnicities in Guyana, “as they, too, have contributed significantly to the growth and development of Guyana”.
The Indian High Commissioner said even though 178 years had passed since the first Indian immigrants set foot on the shores of Guyana they have preserved their culture.
“They landed in Guyana with only a handful of personal baggage but most importantly they carried dreams, mind and soul, knowledge of medicine, culinary skills. They also brought with them the art of dance and music. We the Indians are so proud of Indian immigrants who have travelled to other lands and have established themselves with remarkable success”.
He said that while there were 128 Indians on the Whitby on May 5, a total of 239,000 were shipped to Guyana as indentured labourers and that records indicate that 75,000 went back to India after the indentureship period.