🇬🇾 Mashramani Carnival

Mashramani or Mash for short is the name given to Guyana’s carnival, which not only celebrates this date but also commemorates the day the South American country became a Republic.

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    When is Mashramani Carnival 2021?

    Mashramani Carnival is celebrated on February 23, 2021, but the party begins hours before sunrise and reaches its peak a few hours after sunrise.

    This celebration makes Guyanese people move from different parts of the country to gather in areas where the party is extremely spectacular and has no comparison with any other celebration.

    What is the Mashramani Carnival?

    mashramani carnival

    The Mashramani Carnival is a date that commemorates the fact that Guyana has become a Republic, so it is a celebration of great importance for this South American country.

    February 23rd is considered the day of the “Birth of the Republic“, because since 1970 the history of the country has changed completely and this is one of the few dates where all Guyanese ethnic groups gather and the streets are full of color, joy and great sharing.

    In Mashramani there are parades of floats, costume contests and dances in the streets accompanied by steel band music and calypso, a melody that cannot be missed on a date like this one.

    How is carnival in Mashramani celebrated?

    mashramani carnival

    The Guyanese carnival begins with the celebration of J’ouvert, which takes place one night before and is similar to the day of the festival, as people dress up and dance to the rhythm of calypso and soca in the streets of the different cities.

    The J’ouvert does not belong to Guyana, as this celebration is held in many Caribbean islands and in areas where Caribbean people have migrated over the years.

    In Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada they celebrate the J’ouvert by smearing paint, mud or oil on the participants, who are called “Jab Jabs”.

    The largest attendance for this date is in Georgetown, the activities take place between Vlissingen and Irving Streets to Penang National Park, where calypso and soca are heard at all times and not only the joy of the residents but also of tourists interested in knowing how Guyanese live the Mashramani.

    Each year a different theme is chosen, for 2021 the chosen theme is “Celebrate Mash 50 with victory in mind”, as Guyana celebrates its 50th anniversary of becoming a Republic.

    Among the countless activities that make up the Mashramani are: steel pan contest, children’s competitions, street parades, intellectual contests, art exhibitions at the Castellani House and various conferences on the occasion of the date.

    The Mashramani carnival closes with the “parade of the bands”, which attracts thousands of people who accompany the route that is planned to be carried out.

    There is no doubt that this celebration is of great importance for Guyanese, as the creativity and joy are evident in the fancy dress costumes that local artists create months before the festival.

    Each of the costumes has the stamp of the culture, history and traditions of Guyana, because its residents do not forget their roots and are proud to belong to this South American country, which has a very interesting past. Do you know it?

    Where is the Mashramani Carnival?

    mashramani carnival

    Georgetown, capital of Guyana, is the city that gathers the largest number of visitors for this special and memorable date. Carnival activities take place from Vlissingen and Irving Streets to Penang National Park.

    Throughout the year, Guyana has temperatures between 23ºC and 30ºC, but between August and October the heat is most intense.

    For the celebration of the Mashramani carnival it is recommended to stay hydrated and to attend the activities with comfortable clothes that allow you to move easily.

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    Origins of the Mashramani Carnival

    mashramani carnival

    The Jaycees of Linden, a group of young people, since 1966 had been organizing an independence carnival in Mackenzie, a town located in Linden, Guyana’s second largest city after Georgetown.

    It was not until February 1970 that they formed a Jaycees Republic Celebrations Committee and began organizing the activities to be held at the carnival.

    This group of young people wanted to identify the celebration with a word that would replace carnival and Basil Butcher, the Guyanese cricketer, proposed that it be an Amerindian name, which is a language with an American and indigenous stamp.

    The young people contacted an Amerindian, who told his grandfather about the idea and said it would be to celebrate a special event, so the man said it was like “gathering many” or Mashirimehi in Amerindian and, in Arawak it sounded like Mashramani, they sought to confirm this, but since there were no hypotheses that corroborated or denied this, they decided to call it as it is known today.

    In Guyanese English, Mashramani means “celebration after cooperative work”.

    On February 23, 1970, the Mashramani festival began in Linden, which lasted three days and gathered a multitude of Guyanese in the streets of the city. Seeing the success of the activity, they asked to celebrate it in Georgetown, but soon after, the then president, Forbes Burnham, asked to make it a national holiday.

    The Mashramani carnival used to rotate between Linden, Berbice and Georgetown, but given the financial support received, the costume band contest was kept in Georgetown, so nowadays it is where this date is celebrated in a big way.

    Mashramani Carnival Schedule 2021

    mashramani carnival

    The 2020 Mashramani carnival parade was postponed to 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has been going on worldwide since mid-February, so it is not known if the celebration for the year 2021 will be held on February 23 or will also suffer changes.

    The 2020 celebration was held virtually to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is possible that this same measure will be adopted for 2021, since so far it has not been possible to eradicate the disease that has affected socially and economically the whole world.

    How to get to Mashramani?

    Guyana offers two possibilities to reach its lands, by plane or vehicle, depending on where you are.

    • By plane: If you are traveling from a Latin American country you must make a stopover, as there are no direct flights to Guyana. The ideal would be to travel to Suriname and from there you can take a plane to the South American country. Trinidad and Tobago, being so close to Guyana, offer the possibility of taking a direct flight without major setbacks.
    • By Car: To get to Guyana by car, you can only leave from Suriname or Boa Vista – Brazil. Leaving Suriname you must take a ferry in New Nickery and it will arrive at Moleson Creek. They only make one trip per day and usually leave at 11:00 a.m., so plan your departure time to avoid missing the ferry. If you are in Boa Vista you are going to make a trip of almost 500 km, of which 400 km are made on a dirt road, which requires you to travel in a van or truck. Do you dare?

    Where to stay in Mashramani?

    After having lived such an intense day as the Mashramani carnival, it is necessary to rest in a totally pleasant space, so we recommend some options where you can do it without any problem:

    • Guyana Marriott Hotel: To explore the modern luxury of Georgetown, you must stay at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, where you will marvel at the view of the Demerara River. Its facilities include a gym, swimming pool, grill, bar and rooms equipped according to your needs. Visit it!
    • Cara Lodge Hotel: history is felt in every room of Cara Lodge Hotel, which was built in 1840 and has hosted the likes of Prince Edward, President Jimmy Carter and rock star Mick Jagger.
    • It has 34 rooms, including two suites, each decorated with Caribbean colors and handcrafted furniture made from renewable forest resources from Guyana. Wow!
    • Kanuku Suites: the contrast between ancient and modern represent Kanuku Suites, a space decorated with furniture and accessories made of natural wood and fibers extracted from the jungle.
    • It is located near Sherriff Street, so you don’t have to go that far to enjoy the crafts and accessories made by local artists.
    • Herdmanston Lodge: Just 500 meters from the Georgetown waterfront you will find the Herdmanston Lodge, where comfort and convenience is felt from the moment you step on its facilities.
    • Thanks to its spacious rooms and a garden with a great diversity of Georgetown’s original flora and fauna, you will not want to leave the city so soon.
    • Pegasus Hotel: Just 500 meters from the Georgetown waterfront you will find the Herdmanston Lodge, where comfort and convenience is felt from the moment you step on its facilities.
    • Thanks to its spacious rooms and a garden with a great diversity of Georgetown’s original flora and fauna, you will not want to leave the city so soon? Will you?

    What to do and see at the Mashramani carnival?

    mashramani carnival

    In addition to experiencing the Mashramani carnival, in Georgetown you have the opportunity to learn about the history of Guyana in some of its museums and other tourist sites that always keep a secret of the town.

    •  Guyana National Museum: Since February 13, 1868, the National Museum of Guyana has given visitors the pleasure of learning about its extensive collection of minerals, fruits, seeds, flora and fauna of the country, and has received donations from German and British explorers and botanists. Fantastic!
    • Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology: the government opened the doors of this museum in 1982 with the purpose of collecting, presenting and preserving artifacts related to the ancient cultures of Guyana in order to carry out anthropological research and disseminate knowledge of indigenous peoples. Great!
    • Stabroek Market: is one of the largest markets in Georgetown and holds a special historical significance, as it was built in 1881 in an iron and steel structure with a prominent clock tower, where you can get everything from jewelry to clothing. Wonderful!

    Is it a safe city?

    Guyana has a medium level of insecurity, so authorities recommend taking precautions at dusk, as this is when most robberies occur. If you are going to travel at late hours, it is preferable to do so in the company of someone else.

    Armed gangs are very common in Georgetown, so it is recommended to visit without valuables and always keep your identity documents, such as your passport, safe. ¡Be careful!

    What to eat in Mashramani?

    The roti, cream shrimp, catalinas or fish broth are some of the many dishes that Guyanese gastronomy offers and you can taste them in the following places:

    • OMG! Restaurant: if you are looking for quality, you will find it in OMG, because you will be attended by a highly qualified staff and you will enjoy a service that will not have comparison. Visit them!
    • Hibiscus Restaurant & Lounge: In downtown Georgetown you will be able to taste a variety of dishes never seen before if you go to Hibiscus Restaurant & Lounge, where anyone who visits will be completely satisfied.
    • Windjammer International Cuisine: Creole and Antillean cuisine is enjoyed to the fullest at Windjammer International Cuisine, where you will get dishes like the Friday Curry Fiesta, which will awaken all your senses. Wow!
    • The New Thriving Chinese Restaurant: if you are a Chinese food lover you must visit this place, where you will find wonton soup, fine chicken broth, fried dumplings and sweet and sour chicken, which will make your palate feel delicious.

    Are you ready to experience the Mashramani Carnival? Don’t let this opportunity pass you by, enjoy!

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