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Mashramani in Guyana – Celebrating the Republic

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Published: 23rd of February, 2023 by Patrick Carpen.

Last updated: February 23, 2024 at 15:33 pm

On February, 23, 1970, Guyana was declared a Republic. Republic Day anniversaries in Guyana are usually celebrated with Mash Parades, amongst other activities. Guyana’s Mash parade is similar to the Carnival performances of Trinidad and Tobago. “Mash Parade” is derived from the word Mashramani – which is an indigenous word meaning, “celebration after hard work.”

On May 26, 1966, British Guiana was changed to Guyana, and on February 23, 1970, Guyana was changed to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. Travel documents such as passports reflect these changes.

The Mashramani festival in Guyana takes place every year on the 23rd of February and is intended to celebrate Guyana’s becoming a Republic.

Republic Day and Mashramani go hand in hand on the 23rd of February, and the day, which may is interchangeably called Republic Day and Mash Day, is one of Guyana’s national holidays. On this day, all businesses, schools, government offices, etc are expected to be closed for the celebration of the holiday.

Mashramani celebrations take place on the main roads of cities all across the country. Representatives of schools, businesses, and other organizations dress in costumes depicting various themes and carry banners and floats which depict the themes which the groups are representing. Loud music is carried on vehicles and the participants of the celebrations dance their way from the starting point to another point such as a community center ground where they will explain the meaning and theme of their costumes and floats.

A panel of judges will listen to and look at the performers of each group, assess the merit of their stories, their dance, their costume, their themes etc, and give them a ranking of first to fifth or sixth place (depending on how many groups there are).

After that there will be celebrations, drinking, and merriment for the rest of the day and into the night.

Photos by Amanda Richards

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