3/22/11

Mashramani! Guyana's Carnival

WorldTeach's volunteers in Guyana recently experienced Mashramani, their own version of Carnival and a big, rowdy national holiday! Below, volunteer Sarah Frei writes about coming in to the capital city to see the sights with her fellow volunteers to "mash it up"!

Fellow volunteers and the Guyana Field Director join in the festivities

"Wow, where did February go?! Time is just flying by – I can’t believe I only have 4 more months in Guyana! Life is keeping me busy with schoolwork and holidays. February 23rd was Republic Day, celebrating the day Guyana became a republic in 1960. It is also commonly called Mashramani, which means ‘the celebration of a job well done’ in the Amerindian language. Everyone calls it Mash for short, and it’s celebrated by dressing in elaborate costumes with masks, covering your body in glitter, and dancing to loud music. There was a huge parade in Georgetown and most other towns have their own parades. My school celebrated by parading down the west bank the Friday after (there was no school on the actual holiday).

The parade in town was amazing!! The costumes were so bright and creative!! Many organisations and businesses had their own “floats” with themed costumes. I say “floats” because it was really just a truck with a huge sound system in the back followed by people dancing down the road. There were people pulling float-like designs on wheels. My favourite was the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, where people were dressed as different jungle animals. The parade started a little after 11am (it was supposed to start at 10am, but this is Guyana…), and we watched until 3:30pm when we realised we were very sunburned and our butts were sore from sitting on the curb. I had a ton of fun, just relaxing, listening to music, watching the dancing and costumes. One of my favourite things, when it comes to dancing, is watching kids dance. Now, I’m not that great of a dancer so I’m not very good to judge against, but even by the age of 6 or 7, children here are better dancers than me! I can’t help but laugh because they are so good and so into the music!





The school parade was also a lot of fun, although the costumes were less elaborate. Classes all wore the same colour, and some groups dressed up. My grade 10 science students dressed as doctors. Students covered each other in glitter and masks or face paint. We had our own truck with a sound system, and we marched a couple of kilometres down the road and back. Students had fun dancing and singing along with the tunes. Students kept asking me if I’m going to come back next year to Mash it up again, because (according to them) it is the best holiday. According to some other students though, the best holiday occurs in two weeks…Phahgwah, a Hindu holiday. I’m really looking forward to experiencing that holiday too, and then I can properly judge which holiday is the best.  I’ll be sure to let you know what I think!"


 Sarah's school gathers to watch the festivities

Sarah's students mashing!

We are currently accepting applications for this year's August departure to Guyana, a year-long program focusing on teaching math and science. Apply today!

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