By Lynette Mangar
In these contemporary times with an abundance of Western influences, the Indian culture is very much alive all over Guyana.
Guyanese have easy access to almost everything that keep the Indian culture alive.
Take for instance the Indian weddings and all the other Indian religious ceremonies and rituals, which are constantly being performed all over Guyana, almost all the guests will be appropriately dressed in their Indian attire.
Colour in Indian clothing varies according to the religion and ritual concerned.
For instance, Hindu women wear white clothes for mourning, while Muslims wear white for weddings and elaborate functions.
The Muslim brides will wear white or cream lahengas with green and gold or silver workings.
The Muslim brides also wear salwar-kameez with their head wear to get married.
On the other hand, the Hindu brides wear red lahengas or saris to get married.
The grooms wear the sherwani suit or the traditional satin “jora jama” with the phagri (head wear)
The more religious families will give their brides yellow or gold clothing.
Lately the brides are wearing colours of their choice instead of the traditional red or yellow.
Men and women clothing have evolved from the simple and traditional dhoti and sari , to the more elaborate and contemporary outfits and costumes.
Women wear saris, lahengas, ghararas and Anarkali salwar-kameez to the weddings.
The salwar-kameez, whether anarkali or churridar style, were originally worn by Muslim women, but today we see all the women wearing them to any function. They are the most popular Indian outfit presently here in Guyana.
The sari happens to be the most elegant wear at the Hindu weddings. This unstitched , six yards length of silk or chiffon , or any other appropriate sari material, can be wrapped in many ways. The sari enhances the feminine form and also covers up figure flaws.
Young girls moving around in saris radiate charm and romance around them.
..Legend has it that the sari was born on the loom of a fanciful weaver.
He dreamt of a woman. Her long tumbling hair, her shimmering tears, the softness of her touch and the colours of her many moods! He wove for many days and alas he was done!
He sat back and smiled and smiled. Enchanting grace, flamboyant beauty and the most graceful garment ever worn by woman was created! It is said that no dress in the world can surpass the Indian sari.
The clothing which the Indians wear will vary widely according to the religious ceremony and the climate.
Silk, chiffons and organzas are mostly worn in the evenings when it is cooler.
The cottons are mostly worn in the day when it is hot.
The women perfect their sense of charm and fashion, by wearing the appropriate make-up and jewellery for varying occasions
Culturally the Hindu women wear bindis on their forehead. The married ones wear the red dot while the single women wear different colours to match their clothes.
The Hindu married women also wear the sindoor( traditional red or orange powder)
On the middle part of their hair which is called the “mang”
Apart from the clothing that upkeeps the Indian Culture, there are many other ways in which the Indian culture is upheld. There are the Indian movies, Jewellery , music, cuisine, Drama, theatre, visual arts, sculpture, architecture and sports.
The epics like the Ramayan and the Mahabharata are read at all mandirs and jags etc.
The mandirs and masjids throughout this country contribute greatly to the upkeep of the Indian culture. Youths are taught there to read the Bhagwat Gita and the Koran. They are taught prayers and singing etc. and are encouraged to dress appropriately.
Last but not least, the Indian language has passed on from generation to generation.
Culturally specific names are given to specific relations. It is vague when someone says aunt,uncle, grandmother, grandfather, brother- in-law or sister-in-law.
Does someone know whether it is from maternal or paternal side of family?
Maternal grandmother is Nani, while the grandfather is Nana.
Paternal grandmother is Ajee, while the grandfather is Aja.
Maternal uncle is Mamoo, while his wife is called Mamee.
Paternal Uncle is Cha-Cha, while his wife is Cha-Chee.
Maternal aunt is Mousie, and her husband is called Mousa.
Paternal aunt is Poowa, and her husband is called Pupha.
Brother’s wife is called Bhabi or Bougie, while sister’s husband is called Bonai. Husband’s sister will be Nanad.
The elder brother’s wife will be the Bharkie to the younger brother’s wife. On the other hand, the younger brother’s wife will be the Chutkie to the older brother’s wife. The husband’s elder brother will be Bharka and his younger brother will be the Daywar.
It goes on and on with the rest of relationships. This is an amazing part of the Indian Culture.