Reference is made to multiple missives in Guyana papers and social media critiquing “Cricket Karnival”, an entertainment fete held the evening after the CPL final at the tarmac of Guyana’s Providence stadium. There was hardly any praise for the post final concert which critics described as being filled with vulgar and ribald obscenities and indecencies.
No doubt the carnival was appealing to some folks who viewed it as very entertaining, and it is their right to engage in revelry. It is also the right of others to critique and condemn it. In our moderately conservative society, the lewd, lascivious, desultory, debauchery, vulgar behavior on display at cricket carnival is not a norm and not accepted across the board in Guyana as say in neighboring Trinidad or Brazil where lewdness during carnival is part of the norm. There are still some aspects of decent public entertainment left in Guyana that does not include indecencies exposure.
As I traveled across communities and conversed with Guyanese in person and on the phone in Guyana and in the diaspora, there was and is widespread condemnation of some aspects of the cricket carnival entertainment. It was described as not family oriented, as loose behavior, unwholesome, and immoral. Guyanese complained that traditional, family oriented local culture or entertainment was ignored or marginalized. Guyana has so much to offer in local entertainment and artistes. Foreign cultural practices were on display.
I was at a chatney and ‘Duck Curry’ competition and lime two weeks earlier in Leonara; it was very family oriented and decent acceptable entertainment. I was in Trinidad last week after the Guyana Cricket Carnival fete. Trinis were laughing at us for mimicking aspects of lewdness that they long wanted to disown and dump. Yet, some in Guyana want to embrace and institutionalize it. Trinidad carnival attracts a small live audience, not dissimilar from Guyana. I recall that since Mashramani was introduced by Burnham in 1972, hardly any Indians partook except those on instruction from Burnham. Dr. Jagan and the PPP carried out a boycott that lasted well into the 1990s. Some
forced the Indian community into Mashramani for political purposes post 1993. Indians reluctantly became involved in it increasingly resulting in their ‘de-culturization’ and embrace of Creole culture.
At the Cricket Karnival, the bacchanalia, nudity (scantily clad women that you can see their private parts), gyrating, back balling, wining, and juking against each other, was appealing to some but was largely condemned by adults and religious folks. The bawdy behavior was displayed in full public view of minors and strong families who had come for a night of decent entertainment. To think that the state would fund such an activity was considered as unacceptable by many. They ask: Would the Ministry of Culture give funding or sponsor a traditional form of wholesome, family oriented classical entertainment of music and dance?
These practices are not acceptable by a majority of the population. Unfortunately, the cricket carnival happened at a time when Hindus were observing the holiest period in their faith similar to Ramadan and Lent. The public lewdness disrespected their faith and even moreso when trucks (floats) with loud music and noise passed in front of mandirs without consideration for the mantras (and bhajans) being offered by pandits and worshippers inside. Clearly, it is a disrespect of the peoples’ faith. It was very insensitive to Hindus. And to think that Indians, even some agnostic Hindus, were also involved in its planning. Christians and Muslims were also displeased although their religious sermons were not disturbed. The state and their sponsored trucks (floats) should have been more sensitive in their support for carnival and for disrupting religious practices.
Government supporters have not been pleased with the noise and lewd behavior; they condemn the crude naughtiness on display. While people’s fun activities cannot be outlawed or restricted, such immodest revelry should be held in a confined space especially when financed by the state and during religious observances. It set a bad example to minors. It was also denigrating to females.
Why aren’t females and community elders publicly speaking out against the lewdness rather than complaining to me to take up their cause in the media! It is noted that no religious organization, not even a Hindu body during the
Hindus holiest month, has spoken out against the vulgarity. As a cultural activist complained to me, if such behavior is left unchecked, and if the moralists don’t speak out, if religious leaders don’t voice their views publicly, traditional classical culture will be further undermined.
I am a very good student of history. I earned a PhD in it. I don’t forget certain things. I remember well that the last time there was lewd, lascivious, denigrating, gyrating, almost nude entertainment, voters rebelled. Eventually, there was a change in government. Would history be repeated? Apparently, politicians and political leaders don’t learn from history. As George Santayana, Arnold Toynbee, and other eminent historians penned, those who forget historical experiences are doomed to repeat events. People keep doing the same thing again and again and expect different results each time even when it is a failure. No lesson learned!