Le Ressouvenir, Guyana – November 2, 2013
In honor of Leslie arriving home, there was a parade — not quite. It was the Diwali motorcade. We would probably refer to it as a parade; however, here in Guyana, it is known as a motorcade.
The motorcade is the culmination of the Hindu celebration of Diwali. Diwali is an ancient Hindu celebration that came to Guyana via the indentured servants that were imported from India to Guyana during the 18th and 19th centuries. While there are several interpretations of the reason for the celebration, the focus seems to be on the legend of the marriage of Goddess Lakshmi to Lord Vishnu. During the festival, Hindus celebrate the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, and prosperity. The lights and the fireworks demonstrate their thanks.
The motorcade travels for some five miles along the East Coast Highway to the community grounds at La Bonne Intention (LBI). The highway is the central east/west, two-lane road in the area. So, while the motorcade is in process, there is no regular traffic going either direction. That leads to inevitable traffic snarls.
During the clearing of the road, before the motorcade, there were ambulances and police vehicles speeding back and forth. One can only assume their actions were aiding in the clearing effort.
Before the motorcade arrived at our viewing location, many vehicles parked along both sides of the road, each one disgorged multiple passengers, everyone looking for the best spot from which to watch. Many children across from us passed the time waiting on the floats by playing a game of jump rope.
Finally, after much waiting and anticipation, the first float arrived. The occasion reminded me of a parade of lights one might see in Anytown, USA, during the Christmas season. The only difference was it was not freezing, and there were quite a few wide gaps between many of the floats. From that first float to the last, was a constant stream of people walking alongside the floats, all heading to the conclusion at LBI.
The floats were stunning in both the lighting and the costumes of those on the floats. It was a very festive atmosphere.
In true Guyanese fashion, the music on many of the floats was loud enough to trigger avalanches in the Andes!
Nearly every passing float had a young woman posed as Lakshmi, in each case, sitting on a full-bloomed lotus flower. Most of the women held up their right hand, palm facing forward. That position signifies that one can gain wealth by worshiping her.
The first Lakshmi we saw.Another recurring theme in the motorcade was two elephants. They signify the attainment of spiritual and material prosperity.
Part of the celebration includes sharing candy and cookies with others. While I was busy trying to photograph the scene, one of the participants gave Leslie a couple of sweet cookies of some sort. Unfortunately, the author received neither. Regardless, Leslie said they were delicious!
I hope the reader enjoys the following captures of the motorcade.