The just concluded Easter Season is unquestionably one of the best times of the year to be in Guyana. According to noted Guyanese Writer, Godfrey Chin Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade conjures up one of the many glorious annual holidays celebrated in Guyana, in which kite flying is the major attraction. Steeped in rich religious folklore and cultural traditions from the ‘melting pot of our six races’, the recently celebrated Easter Holidays sandwiched between four non-working days – Good Friday to Easter Monday with Easter kite flying is a kaleidoscope of epicurean fun and frolic, to match anywhere in the world.
Good Friday, yesteryear was a ‘taboo’ day where the religious inclined, must attend High Mass in their Sunday ‘Best’ – give more generously to their church’s collection plate, and the Family’s ‘Thanksgiving’ meal, on that day, must be no meat whatever. A loud Metagee or Coocoo with fish was the favourite dish, chased with a local brew of Ginger Beer, Mauby, Swank or Fly . The old folks would prohibit any members of their household from venturing outside the home with concocted tales designed to ignite the latent superstition in us, with conjured up vicious attacks of ‘jumbees, ol Higue, and massacuraman.
Guyana celebrates Easter without the trappings of Easter Bunny Rabbits or Egg Hunts but the long weekend outdoor fun bringing folks of different class, race or creed together fulfilling magnanimously the ‘purpose of the sacrifice on the cross’.
Good Friday was a good day for ‘show-off’ fathers to make kites for the entire household, but this ceremony is no longer necessary as kites are readily available from roadside vendors. Imported plastic ‘do it yourself’ assembly kites is a ‘cop out’ – permitting the households head, a well deserved lazy day for dominoes, surfing the internet, plus a ‘surreptitious drink’ under the table.
Yesteryear the rigmarole of making kites for the family was an Easter rite of challenges – collecting glamma cherry for adhesive – light box wood for kite frames – Barbados, tissue, and brown shop paper to cover intricate paper patterns. With the kite completed, additional challenges included the preparation of the ‘bolla’ string, enough kite tail with ‘bedding scraps to keep the kites from pitching, and the loop to control your aerial display. Even preparations of pastry and goodies, etc for that Easter Monday kite flying family picnic are now ‘dodo chores’ as ‘carry out quik-serv pizza and chicken take away in boxes, are the norm eliminating kitchen wares to be washed. The downside is ’nuff nuff plastic’ throwaways for disposal.
In the modern today – Good Friday is a good day for travel overland to the profuse holiday excitement at our resort attractions. In Lethem, the Rupununi Rodeo is a festival of bronco busting – horse racing – steer roping – catching the greasy pig – wild cow milking – all delightful fun for participants and spectators’. The Rupununi Rodeo has become a Guyanese Easter tradition as it is hosted annually on at Lethem. It has become such a popular national event that the rodeo brings thousands by bus, SUVs, and even motorbikes thronging through the road corridor leading to Lethem, or by plane. It allows for seeing wild country at its best, from jungle to Savannah and then at the end gives a taste of a lifestyle far different from that of the Coastland.
The fun begins on Holy Saturday and continues until Easter Monday, with daytime activities including wild bull riding, horse racing, wild cow milking, wild horse riding, a female barrel race, and steer roping, among other exhilarating events.
Recently, a Miss Rupununi Rodeo Beauty Pageant has been added featuring beauties from the Region and neigbouring Brazil.
In an effort to harness the potential of this event, the Ministry of Tourism and the Guyana Tourism Authority have collaborated with several tour operators who offer tour packages for the Rupununi Rodeo and other events that fall within the Easter period, under the Re-Discover Home initiative.
This initiative was launched to provide the opportunity for citizens, businesses, organisations and tourists to discover Guyana’s tourism offerings.
The Rupununi Rodeo has its origins in the middle of the last century, when vacqueros competed against each other in various skills; it later grew from being a centralised event in the hinterland village of St. Ignatius before moving to Lethem in 1985.
Over the Easter Weekend thousands of Guyanese also converge on Bartica for the interior mining town’s Annual Regatta. At Bartica, the Regatta features a variety of water sports and competitions including power boat racing, jet skiing, canoe racing, climbing the greasy pole plus beach parties, a beauty pageant and street parade.
The main attraction this year was the mega concert which was scheduled to feature performances by Jamaican artistes Christopher Martin and D-Major, as well as Guyana’s very own Universal Melodies Band along with Zion Kid. The concert, held at the Bartica Community Centre Ground, promised a great kick off to a weekend packed with activities.
On Sunday, April 16, the fun continued as some of the biggest names in powerboat racing were placed under the spotlight. The Power Boat Races saw the likes of Dave Scott, Jose Jardine, Sean Belle and the Bartica racers, throwing down the gauntlet to Neil and Clint Gonsalves and the Pomeroon crew. Following the thrills and excitement of the boat racing there was an evening of poise as eight of Bartica’s most beautiful women competed for the coveted Miss Bartica Regatta Crown 2017, at the Community Centre Ground.
Back on the mainland, Easter Saturday which was previously a public holiday is ideal for shopping and sightseeing tours around the city visiting Stabroek Market, St George’s Cathedral, the City Hall, the Botanic and Promenade Gardens.
The annual Easter kite flying tradition in Guyana is a rite as fulfilling as our ‘pepperpot, black cake and garlic pork at Christmas or the ‘abeer’ water at Pagwah.
Kite flying for each individual encompasses a full lifetime – from your first ‘kankawa’ kite at four – your challenging singing engine at youthful seventeen – your responsibilities as parents and finally your retirement languish in the sunset years as grandparents.
The kites Guyanese choose to fly in their lifetimes is very often a reflection of their respective individual characters and creativity as evinced in the wide variety available from singing engines, stars and box kites, etc. Flown kites perpetrate and carry on century old traditions of foreign dynasties such as China, India and Japan, etc. They conquer nature’s aerodynamics by controlling a heavier than air object with a string tether, and match space age conquests of today’s astronauts. Kite flying also provides an opportunity for family picnics in the glorious outdoor where class, race, creed and religion take the backstage. And of course there’s also always the homage paid to a ‘risen’ Christ on the third day, in reverence and worship of the supreme being who paid the ultimate price for mankind