People of Indian origin are the largest ethnic group in Guyana

People of Indian origin form one of the largest ethnic groups in Guyana at over 40 percent of the population, and they occupy top positions in government.
People of Indian origin are the largest ethnic group in Guyana

FILE PHOTO: High Commissioner of India to Guyana, K.J. Srinivasa, inaugurates the first ever Ganga Maa Temple in Guyana.

High Commission of India, Georgetown

People of Indian origin form the largest ethnic group in Guyana at over 40 percent of the population, and they occupy top positions in government.

In 1838, workers from India migrated to Guyana to work as indentured laborers on sugar cane plantations during British colonial rule. They settled down in Guyana, making it their home. The present-day Indo-Guyanese are their descendants. Every year, May 5 is celebrated as Indian Arrival Day.

While commemorating Indian Arrival Day in 2019, former President David A Granger unveiled the Indian Immigration Monument near the Berbice Bridge in Palmyra, comprising a playground and fountains.

The late Cheddi Berret Jagan, known as Guyana's Father of the Nation and served as president from 1992 to 1997, was the son of indentured laborers brought from India and was born on a sugar cane plantation. Jagan was the founder of the country's first modern political party, the People's Progressive Party, which he set up along with his wife.

Guyanese and former captain of the West Indies cricket team, Carl Hooper, said in an interview in 2018, "We celebrated all Indian festivities like Diwali. So I was very familiar with the culture." The West Indies team has had several players of Indo-Guyanese descent, such as Rohan Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and Ramnaresh Sarwan.

With such a sizable population of Indians in Guyana, naturally, Indian culture is deeply entrenched in the country. The Indian Cultural Center that came up in 1972 is furthering ties between the two countries, conducting classes in yoga, music, and Indian classical and folk dances.

Wherever there are Indians, inevitably, there are Bollywood films, which are a significant source of entertainment among the populace, and the Indian Cultural Center screens Indian films every month.

From sugar cane plantation workers to owning their farms, many Indo-Guyanese are landowners and independent farmers today. But, as the previous narrative shows, they have also done well in other fields, such as business, politics, and sports.