The end of year season celebration is upon us again. In spite of the increase in pandemic infection, New York based Indo-Caribbeans are preparing for the holiday season. An aura of the seasonal celebration is in the air in Indian Caribbean residential neighbourhoods (where there are ethnic enclaves of Guyanese) as well as in the main Guyanese business districts such as Liberty, Jamaica, and Hillside Avenue (Queens) Flatbush Avenue and Cypress (Brooklyn), Parkchester (Bronx). The Christmas celebrations is a welcome break after such a long time of not celebrating a major national festival. But it comes with dangers of Omicorn infection. Please be safe and observe protocols! Season Greetings to readers!
In Little Guyana, Flatbush, and other shopping areas patronized by Guyanese and other Caribbean people, stores and restaurants are teeming with shoppers rushing to purchase gifts, decorations, drinks, cakes, fresh meat, and a variety food items. Many shop for ginger and mauby bark to make traditional drinks.
Shops on the varied business avenues are well decorated (they have been so since Thanksgiving in late November. The Avenues and in front of some stores are brightly illuminated and decorated with related paraphernalia comparable to other shopping districts in the city or in parts of Guyana. Christmas music emanates from many of the stores. One can purchase virtually everything related to Christmas at any of hundreds of Guyanese and other Caribbean stores in the varied Guyanese enclaves. Guyanese from outside the city or upstate like from Schenectady, other states, and even from Brooklyn and Queens Village or Long Island, prefer to come to Little Guyana (Liberty Avenue to shop where they meet and reminisce about a Guyanese Christmas holiday. They also patronize one of dozens of Guyanese fast food restaurants; some even patronize the bars or rum shops or clubs for a drink and chaser.
One can feel the Christmas spirit in the Guyanese residential enclaves with homes brightly decorated as in a competition. Multi-coloured flickering lights, trimmings, and other paraphernalia are on display in front of homes and on lawns in Little Guyana’s all over Queens and Brooklyn. There are all types and shapes of lights. Trees are well illuminated next to fluttering Jhandis. It has been very windy over the last few days and temperature nearing freezing in the night but expected to warm up over the next few days. The illuminated homes have been drawing onlookers.
The Christmas season is usually one of expectancy among the large Guyanese population regardless of racial or religious affiliation. Guyanese Americans make preparation for that special holiday meals and beverages. They join in the Christmas spirit with other Americans. During the season, cakes, pastries and bread are baked just like in Guyana. Traditional Guyanese food, such as dhal puri and curried mutton, chicken, goat, duck, and alou, and fried rice, channa, and chowmein and delicacies like bhara, phulouri, and black cake will be served just like back in Guyana.
The end of the year season is also a time for gifting and charities as well as parties at businesses owned by Guyanese or where large numbers of Guyanese are employed. Several businesses hosted small parties observing Covid protocol. Season bashes at five star hotels and catering halls are absent this season because of the pandemic. Several Mandirs, Masjids, and churches distributed food hampers over the last couple weekends. Some Guyanese mandirs, like Durga, etc. are distributing hampers almost daily. Community advocate Vishnu Mahadeo’s Richmond Hill Association have been distributing food hampers and anti-Covid arsenal almost daily.
Many Indians prefer to celebrate Christmas at home. And some have made the yearly trek or pilgrimage to Guyana or Trinidad to experience the good old Guyana Christmas. Others are replicating the Guyanese Christmas in their home in the diaspora.
The Christmas holiday was at fever pitch from Friday when most offices and all schools were closed for the rest of the season. Schools go on break till Monday January 3.