BY: LEANNE BENN
There’s Trinidad, Antigua, Barbados, St Lucia, Brazil and even Bermuda among many other countries and cultures that all have something in common. It’s Carnival. Carnival is a season of celebration in many different counties and cultures, most often held right before the start of Lent. But many places in the Caribbean celebrate Carnival at different times during the year. There is a shift from the traditional Roman Catholic celebration marked before Lent to what Caribbean countries celebrate. There is often a link to religion and especially colonialism. Each country will have a different history behind carnival and the time has now arrived for Guyana to celebrate the launch of its first official carnival celebration.
Most often when Caribbean people hear about the flashy costumes and the catchy soca music related to carnival they think about Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad’s carnival holds roots going back to the late 1700’s when the French held extravagant masquerade balls, many of the slaves held their own celebrations and it is from this root that many Caribbean carnivals took hold.
Once slavery was abolished in 1834 many Caribbean counties started to celebrate their native culture through expressions of dress, art music and obviously dancing. Guyana notably celebrates Mashramani during the month of February. Though traditionally tied to the indigenous celebration, it has transformed over the years to almost resemble a small-scale carnival celebration, but it is more cultural.
However, May 2018 marks the 52nd anniversary of Guyana’s Independence from the British and the organizers behind Guyana’s premier carnival decided this would be the perfect period to celebrate and encourage the population to take part in Mas and revel in the streets with gorgeous and elaborate costumes.
The official Guyana carnival Committee stated that the idea to launch carnival also stemmed from Guyana’s big 50th independence celebrations held two years ago. There was a huge spike in tourism and much anticipation for celebratory events. During this time, Guyana’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Cathy Hughes hinted at the fact that Guyana should capitalize on opportunities like this and organized annual events that can focus on celebration and tourism.
Guyana’s carnival will provide a major economic boost and open more business ventures to all things carnival related, such as costumes, makeup, transportation, food, accommodation and especially the local music industry. Soca artists will especially have a chance to shine. Guyana Carnival is being heavily marketed and promoted around the Caribbean, Europe and in North American countries in collaboration with various media houses to help promote this new venture. As was seen this year during Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival where many ads were present.
The theme for Guyana Carnival 2018 is ‘Genesis’, basically translating to the beginning. This will be the beginning of something new and fresh for Guyanese and many around the world to take part in. Festivities will begin May 18th and stretch to May 27th, one day after Guyana’s Independence celebrations. Guyanese diaspora and others around the world will have a chance to take part in all-inclusive fetes, cooler fetes, boat rides, parties, a grand day parade (Mas) and many more.
Similar to other Carnivals, many are encouraged to take part, by registering with different bands, to get costumes and access to other perks and goodies. There will be special accommodation rates leading up to carnival and many costume deals and options. The official band launch was held back in December 2017 but there is still time left for those interested to register and take part in order to feed their curiosity by coming to the beautiful country of Guyana and being part of history.
For more information on Guyana’s first carnival visit GuyanaCarnival592 online and check out the full schedule of events. Happy Fete-ing!