A Queens, New York, street was co-named for a Guyanese Pandit, Shri Prakash Gossai of Handsome street, Mahaica, on Sunday July 18. It is now co named Shri Prakash Gossai Way on 86th Street and 101 Ave in Ozone Park, Queens where thousands of Guyanese and Trinis are settled. Ozone Park is an extension of Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, and Cypress, all of are settled by tens of thousands of Guyanese.
The co naming of the street in Queens comes on the heels of the co naming of two other streets in the nearby areas for Guyanese Pandit Ramlall and Little Guyana, Richmond Hill so dubbed by the large Guyanese population settled in New York. Some one hundred thousand Guyanese live in the greater Richmond Hill area which was was first settled by Guyanese and Trinis in the 1970s. Some half a million Guyanese are settled in the USA.
Prakash Gossai Way is named in honor of the late Hindu Priest Shri Prakash Gossai. He was enormously popular in North America and the Caribbean for his explanation and interpretation of the Ramayana. He was also the most popular Bhajan singer in the West. He was a versatile singer and won Bollywood filmi singing contests in Guyana. He played the harmonium very well. Gossai was educated as a Biologist at UG and worked at the medical lab in Georgetown before migrating to the US in the early 1980s. He was employed briefly with Dr Vishnu Bandhu as an accountant and sales agent in a store in Brooklyn. Then he applied for and passed exams to obtain a license as a high school teacher in Biology in New York in 1985. While waiting for his teaching license m, he accompanied Dr Bandhu and other religious figures singing at satsanghs and religious events in weekends and at weekday Hindu festivals. After he became. Biology teacher, he founded the Bhuvaneshwar Mandir in Brooklyn and then shifted location to Ozone Park, Queens. He was an enormously popular Pandit among Indo Caribbeans and nationals from India. Gossai also studied Hinduism and Hindi in India for a year. He escorted tours and pilgrimage to India annually for a few years.
The well known Pandit re-migrated to Guyana and was employed by the government around 2007. He suffered a massive heart attack in 2009 and his family airlifted him to Miami for medical treatment. He died shortly after his arrival in Miami. His body was flown to New York for final rites. Thousands from all parts of the globe came to pay final tributes to him.
Recently, his family petitioned the City Council to name a street in his honor near the Mandir he founded. Council Member Eric Ulrich of the area champion the petition. It was approved by the Council and signed into law by the Mayor.
Among those in attendance for the street naming ceremony were: Brooklyn Boro President Donovan Richards, Democratic Mayoral nominee Eric Adams, community leaders, the Mayor’s Liaison Rohan Narine, Pandit Santram Dukhbanjan, Dr Dhanpaul Narine, Assembly Woman Jenifer Rajkumar, Council Member Ulrich, and Pandit Bankim Gossai of London. Bankim is Prakash’s brother. Arun Gossai, Prakash’s son presided over the ceremony.
Before the unveiling ceremony, there was a program at the Mandir that included prayers, speeches, singing, and dance items. Accolades were showered on the late Pandit from community leaders and elected politicians.
The co naming of the street for an Indian Guyanese is a reflection of the growing influence of the Indian American community in America.