Easter & Kites In Guyana
By 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 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. My mom annually preached about the group of seven brothers and friends, who went fishing on Good Friday and never returned home. I am yet in my painstaking research of Guyana’s history to find any evidence of her Mark Twain ‘tall story’.
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’.
Other activities include climbing and hiking to Kumu and Moco Moco Falls – trekking to the foothills of the Kanuku Mountains, and visits across the Brazilian border to Bon Fim.
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 Splashmin’s Water Parks and Lake Mainstay are holiday delights as is the 6 mile No 63 Beach on the Corentyne coast. Nature lovers, bird watchers, outdoor adventurers enjoy breathtaking visits to Kaieteur Falls and Iwokrama that satisfies any pioneer spirit.
The Inner Wheel Club, comprising wives and widows of Rotarians will stage their 27th Annual Easter Hat Show in the Promenade Gardens for Easter 2012.
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 we chose to fly in our lifetime reflect our individual character and creativity as evinced in the wide variety available from singing engines, stars and box kites, etc. When we fly kites we perpetrate and carry on century old traditions of foreign dynasties such as China, India and Japan, etc. We conquer nature’s aerodynamics by controlling a heavier than air object with a string tether, and match space age conquests of today’s astronauts. We enjoy family picnics in the glorious outdoor where class, race, creed and religion take the backstage. And of course we pay homage to a ‘risen’ Christ on the third day, in reverence and worship of the supreme being who paid the ultimate price for mankind.