University of Guyana hosts Indian Arrival Day Symposium, 2022

The University of Guyana (UG) will be hosting a three-hour-long symposium on May 4th 2022 to commemorate the 184th anniversary of the arrival of East Indians in Guyana. The symposium, which will be held virtually from 17:00 hrs to 20:00 hrs will focus on lesser-known and lesser-celebrated East Indians who have made significant contributions to the development of Guyana.

Among those scheduled to make remarks are

● the High Commissioner of India to Guyana, H.E. Dr K.J. Srinivasa,

● University of Guyana’s Vice-Chancellor, IX, Prof Paloma Mohamed Martin,

● Dean of the Faculty of Education and Humanities (FEH), Dr Roslin Khan,

● Lecturer in the FEH Alim Hosein, and

● Head of the Department of Language and Cultural Studies, FEH, Andrew Kendall.

Leading academics will make presentations on several of these lesser-known, but outstanding Guyanese: Prof Baytoram Ramharack will present on Jung Bahadur Singh & Balram Singh Rai; Dr Seeta Shah Roath will present on Esther Mahadeo; Prof Somdat Mahabir will present on Nutan Bishun and Premsukh Poonai, while Cliff Rajkumar will present on Pam & Harry Harrack. The presentations will be followed by discussions moderated by Drs Kumar Mahabir and Mark Tumbridge.

The symposium will also feature cultural presentations and readings from the works of Indo-Guyanese writers by present and past students of the University of Guyana, including award-winning poet Gabrielle Mohamed. Another feature of the symposium will be a spotlight on Guyanese poet Mahadai Das and her artistic focus on another group of undersung persons of Indian heritage: women.

In celebrating lesser-known historic and contemporary East Indians who helped to develop Guyana, and also looking forward to contemporary and future development of Indo-Guyanese culture and scholarship in Guyana, the symposium will widen the thinking on the Indo-Guyanese contributions and presence in Guyana.

The declaration of May 5th as Arrival Day followed the passage on April 14th, 2003, in the National Assembly, of Resolution No. 12 of 2003. It celebrates the contributions to the national development of our African, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and European ancestors and their descendants.

Arrival Day challenges us to appreciate our diverse peoples and their cultures and encourages us to strive for a society in which the contributions of every ethnic group are recognised, respected and rewarded.

May 5th also marks Indian Arrival Day. The first set of East Indians arrived in Guyana on May 5, 1838 as part of a scheme of “indentureship” or contracted labour devised by the planters to obtain labour for the sugar estates after the end of slavery in 1834. Between 1838 and 1917, when indentureship ended, an estimated 240,000 Indians were brought to Guyana.

The University of Guyana Press will also host the virtual book launch of “Kiskadee Days” by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra later in May to continue the month of commemoration of Indian arrival and their contributions to Guyana.

The University will also host similar events for Emancipation Day and Indigenous Peoples Month on these commemorative days later this year.

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