More than 800 students of Black Bush, Corentyne in Guyana were beneficiaries of free school bags and free meals courtesy Pandit Narayan Lachana (Pandit Baya), Sham Gobin and his four sisters and daughter, Dayanand and Mohan Samlal, devotees of Guyana and Trinidad and the National Children Cultural Foundation Incorporated (NCCF).
The 10-day visit (April 25-May 4) included a 3-Night Gyan Yagya at the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir in Yakusari with Pandit Baya officiating and assisted by Pandit Son Son and Pandit Anthony. An average of 200-300 devotees attended each night. The Yagya was held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir and the 5th Anniversary of the Cultural Training Center. Both projects were initiated by Pandit Baya and Sham Gobin with the assistance of several devotees.
Pandit Baya, Sham Gobin and the other visitors also joined with the Black Bush Pranth of the Guyana Dharmic Sabha in the commemoration of Indian Arrival Day on May 5, the anniversary of the arrival of the first batch of 423 immigrants to British Guiana aboard the Whitby and the Hesperus to work on Plantation Highbury.
Another highlight of the 10-day visit was Nagar Sankirtan through the Yakusari district. Scores of youths and elders joined in this street procession dressed in traditional Indian wear and bearing jhandis in their hands. The sankirtan was followed by a cultural program featuring songs, music and dances and the presentation of Certificates of Appreciation to pandits and other community workers.
Among the schools benefitting from the gifts of bags and meals were the Primary and Secondary Schools recently constructed by the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha led by Dr. Vindhya Persaud who is a member of the Guyana Assembly and the Minister of Human and Social Services and daughter of the late Pandit Repu Daman Persaud, founder of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha.
Pandit Baya was born in Port Mourant in 1961 and grew up in Yakusari where he worked as a rice farmer and dedicated his time and resources to the strengthening of the Hindu community. With the support of Sham Gobin and devotees both locally and abroad, the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir was reconstructed in 2003, and the Cultural Training Center in 2018.
Pandit Baya continues to serve dharma from the Sri Krishna Mandir in Jamaica Avenue in Queens, New York, and works with the NCCF to host a TV program and Kala Utsav to highlight the musical and vocal talents of the youths.
Pandit Baya and Sham Gobin have maintained their links with Yakusari and the greater Black Bush and Corentyne where they make regular visits to provide education supplies such as school bags and other goodies to school children. Financial support are also given for the management of several mandirs in the Corentyne.
In 2021 I had the honor and privilege to document and publish in Amazon a biography on the life of Pandit Baya titled Man of Action – A Biography of Pandit Baya. I strongly recommend that you access a copy of this book to appreciate how much an individual in a rural part of Guyana can achieve by working with fellow Hindus for the welfare and progress of the community.