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Gymkhana, a Uniquely Guyanese Tradition

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First Published: 11th of May, 2022

Last updated: May 11, 2022 at 16:40 pm

Gymkhana has different significance to different countries. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Gymkhana as “a meet featuring different sports contests or athletic skills,” and added that the word originated in 19th century India. If you google the term “gymkhana,” you might realize that this sport culture is not spread out across the world. It is unique to a few countries. In Guyana, the idea has morphed into something even more unique.

I remember as a kid, when I visited the gymkhana event at Belvedere, Corentyne, Berbice, there were all kinds of activities including swimming, sprints, racing on donkeys, horse racing, etc. There were also those games to hit the tins down and win a prize. It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed.

But for over a decade, I didn’t hear about gymkhana again, and didn’t even know how the word was spelled. I googled “gym corner,” “gym cana,” and a few other misspelled keywords and didn’t turn up any satisfactory results. Then, in May, 2022, the Guyana Police Force, via its Facebook Page, refreshed my memory.

On the 8th of May, 2022, the Guyana Police Force sponsored this fun-filled event at the Police Sports Club Ground in Eve Leary, Georgetown, and chronicled the activities on its Facebook Page. The true meaning of gymkhana in the Guyanese context was showcased again.

On Saturday, May 7th, 2022, the Guyana Police Force advertised that gymkhana would be held on the following Sunday, May 8th, 2022. Entry fee was free and activities included:

  • Skilled performances by the canines
  • Performances on horses
  • Performances by the Police Force Band
  • Majorettes
  • Acrobatics
  • Granny Ivy
  • Bun eating competition
  • Coca-Cola drinking competition
  • Eat and spoon race
  • Bag race
  • And more…

Gymkhana 2022, hosted by the Guyana Police Force, was a huge success. Ministers of Government, members of the Diplomatic Community, businesspersons, and Guyanese from all walks of life attended.

Bag race, as in the photo shown above, is where the children put their feet in bags and try to run…hop that is. The race is to see who can reach the finish line faster with their feet constrained in this manner.

Showcasing some crazy skills: spitting fire.

Showcasing some amazing skills: Acrobatics

Buns eating competition at Gymkhana 2022.

Winner of 60 meter dash awarded $200 USD

Horse riding and stunts are often a feature of Gymkhana.

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