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Mashramani

Mash in Guyana 2007

Mashramani, often abbreviated to "Mash", is an annual festival that celebrates Guyana becoming a Republic in 1970. The festival, usually held on 23 February – Guyanese Republic Day – includes a parade, music, games and cooking and is intended to commemorate the "Birth of the Republic".The word "Mashramani" is derived from an Amerindian language and in translation means "the celebration after hard work". It is one of the most colourful of all the country's festivals. There are spectacular costume competitions, float parades, masquerade bands, and dancing in the streets to the accompaniment of steel band music and calypsos. Masquerades frequent the streets performing acrobatic dance routines, a vivid reminder of Guyana's African heritage. Calypso competitions with their witty social commentaries are another integral part of "Mash", and this culminates in the coronation of a King or Queen for the particular year.

Origin

The Carnival activities.

The search for a name to replace Carnival began and it was suggested by Basil Butcher that an Amerindian name be chosen. This was agreed to and several individuals including Mr. Allan Fiedtkou, an Amerindian, were contacted. Mr. Fiedtkou held discussions with his grandfather who explained a type of Festival that was held by Amerindians whenever they gather to celebrate a special event. This event he said was like "Muster Many" (or Mashirimehi in Amerindian) and sounded in Arawak like Mashramani. Steps were taken to confirm this. Adrian Thomson concluded that since no one could have confirmed or denied that the Arawak word for Festival was Mashramani, then the Festival could be called Mashramani. On 23 February 1970 the Festival called "Mashramani" was a huge success with people drawn from all Regions of Guyana to Linden welcoming Guyana's status as a republic with over three days of frolic and fun.

After witnessing the massive crowds, glitter and level of competition, Mr. David Singh, a Government Official, held discussion with the Jaycees Committee about bringing the event to President Forbes Burnham for Mash to be a National Event for the Republic celebration. Mash activities were rotated in Linden, Berbice and Georgetown but due to sponsorship, the Costume Bands contest remained in Georgetown.

Celebration

With Guyana being as large as it is, people travel from miles out of town to be a part of the celebrations, with children, food and all, because they see this day as a day of celebration. The Mash Day depicts a hive of activity from Vlissingen and lrving streets all the way to the National Park, with an air of expectancy. Thousands of people summon to the streets to participate in the annual Mashramani celebrations, which has been a part of Guyanese culture for over 50 years.

Mashramani also includes Jouvert,which is the night before Carnival.The celebration involves calypso/soca bands and their followers dancing through the streets. The festival starts well before dawn and peaks a few hours after sunrise.

Mashramani Day is considered to be the ultimate party and 'you' day. Both men and women alike dress up in costumes that are bright and colorful. When it comes to costumes on Mash Day, revelry is the name of the game; the more festive and lively the costume the better.The Mashramani Carnival is like a World Class Festival! You must attend. The atmosphere is very West Indian like with a burst of Caribbean culture and an island rhythmic vibe! It also has the Latin Flair of it being situated in South America!

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