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Guyana diaries: Bhojpuri nights, ubiquitous Hindu temples and booming economy

Most of the Guyanese Indians are Hindus including Sarwan while the current president Irfaan Ali is a Muslim of Indian lineage.
Last Updated : 27 June 2024, 08:10 IST

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Georgetown, Guyana: Guyana gives that home vibe to visitors from India, and the 'Indian-ness' is quite palpable in every corner here.

You feel that immediately while entering the Providence Cricket Stadium at Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, which is the only English-speaking country in South America.

The main entrance of the stadium welcomes you with an unmissable “Bhojpuri Nights” banner promoted by a nearby nightclub.

A short walk from there takes you to one of the many and probably the biggest temples in Georgetown, the ISKCON.

A popular Indian eatery owned by former West Indies batter Ramnaresh Sarwan too is a must-visit for anyone from the sub-continent.

The Guyanese Indians as they are referred to form the largest ethnic group in this country which shares borders with Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela.

Most of the Guyanese Indians are Hindus including Sarwan while the current president Irfaan Ali is a Muslim of Indian lineage.

“The Guyanese Indians are very powerful here. As far as places of Hindu worship are concerned, you would find a temple every four to five miles,” says Sarwan.

The thriving community makes up for more than 40 percent of the population and are descendants of indentured labourers from India who were transported to European colonies during the British Raj in the early 19th century.

What adds to the Indian ambiance is life on the bustling streets, mostly littered, and honking from cars. But they are a long way from matching the Indian decibel standards.

The power centre is also mainly in the hands of Guyanese Indians with president Ali and former head of state Bharrat Jagdeo running the government.

So, it’s quite natural that the Indian cricket team is getting wholehearted backing here from the locals after the exit of the West Indies from the T20 World Cup.

Oil discovery fuels economy

In 2015, a company discovered 11 billion barrels of oil in Guyana and that set the country on the path of double-digit growth and a better future.

It attracted the attention of the world including Chinese companies which are now building key infrastructure in the country.

India too is doing its bit to improve Guyana’s infrastructure by committing to a $100 million road project in the capital.

“The huge Chinese presence is largely not welcomed by the local people as they are not employing the local population for their projects.

“They did initially but now all of their employees are from China. How does it help us in the long run?” asks a travel agent seeking anonymity.

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Published 27 June 2024, 08:10 IST

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