Celebrating Mashramani in Guyana
Guyana WorldTeach volunteer Mariah Parker recently celebrated Mashramani to celebrate the formation of the Republic of Guyana. Read on to learn about the fun festivities associated with this unique holiday in Guyana…
I don’t even know where to begin with the Mash weekend! It was Mashramani, which is the celebration of the formation of the Republic of Guyana. Fun Fact: it took about 4 years for the Guyanese to set up the republic after the British left. BUT Mash is a major celebration and holiday here! For a month now, we have been decorating and having competitions in preparation for the lovely day, February 23! We were lucky because this year it fell on a Sunday causing the entire weekend to be crazy!
Friday during school was suppose to be the Children’s Mashramani March through Bartica but because of certain financial constraints we played fun games instead. There was cricket and volleyball tournaments, table tennis, scrabble, chess, dominos, and local childrens’ games, which is where I was the entire day. Just like we have “Miss Marry Mack” and “Ring Around the Rosie” they have songs and games too! One goes like this “Rid-um (rhythm but they pronounce ridum), rid-um, rid-um in your big toe rid-um, say whaaaa, who say wha, say whaaaaaaa, who say wha” this goes into calling peoples names and them saying whaaaaaa! Its definitely a crowd pleaser. But MYYYY favorite is called gypsy and the song calls on one individual, it was me about 600 times, and begins with the classic, “Hey Miss” “Hey what?” “Are you ready?” “For what” and everyone (and literally everyone in a block radius) sings “My hands are high, my feet are low, and this is how my body go” The person who was called out originally does a dance and everyone else must do it or they’re out. There were many other small games like that and all the students there, not just the ones I teach, are still talking about how Miss danced with the kids! Flash forward to the boat leg of the journey to Georgetown, and a lady sits next to me and says “You’re a teacher at Tree (Three) Miles.” Not a question, but a statement. I am slightly stunned and confirm that I do indeed teach at Three Miles Secondary. She stares at me for about 30 seconds I assume sizing me up, and then goes on to say that her daughter can’t stop talking about how I played games with them today and she was up there signing something and she saw me playing and loved that my student’s love me! That is something every teacher wants to hear! They have an odd way of showing their love but hey, they like me!
The highlights of Saturday were a rugby game, a classy dinner at a classy bar called Gravity, a paint party that never happened, and a HUGE party at the Banks Beer distillery where Alicia’s (our field director) bag was slashed 6 times in hopes of stealing some goodies but the lining of the bag proved too much for the thief. They got away with nothing. Even if they were successful, the bag was only holding napkins to wipe sweat away with.
One thing that I absolutely LOVE is that Guyanese people want everyone to always have a good time. As “tourists” (strangers don’t automatically assume we live here) we have never experienced Guyana before. Therefore, there is never a lack of people buying us drinks or bottles of anything. I tried to give them away but no one would take them saying they were for me to have fun.
Sunday was the parade!!! Crazy costumes and music all day! I have added some more pictures!
Overall, I would say that Mash 2014 was a success!!
This past Saturday was the Mash celebration in Bartica. Guyana has the big hoopla in Georgetown first, then have smaller celebrations in the individual regions so everyone can do both! We, the four volunteers, were invited to walk in the parade so naturally we did! We were covered in glitter and had masks that stained your face. We walked (danced) for a parade route that was no more than 18 blocks covering ALL of the main part of Bartica (yes it’s that small) but it took about 4 hours to do! Why? It isn’t a continuous movement, a lot of stop and go! And because when the parade IS moving, you are moving a snails pace. To be more accurate, a snail could have won a race by how slow we were moving.
I have stated that there are no secrets in Bartica and once one person sees you the entire town sees you doing anything and everything. This also means that things gets blown out of proportion all the time. I tripped in the street once (I didn’t fall over or fall down) and for about 2 weeks I heard about how I nearly broke my neck and needed stitches and how I needed to be careful in the bumpy streets. My students informed me that during the parade, I had a table beside me with a bottle of Ciroc and Johnny Walker Black Label Bourbon that I refused to share with anyone. What actually happened was I drank a beer while waiting for the parade to start moving again.
I only have four months left before my year in Guyana is over and I know it will go by too quickly. I don’t want it to. I don’t want this exciting year to end! SOOO I just need to plan a more exciting next year so I have something to look forward too.
-Mariah Parker, World Teach Guyana 2013-2014