Surinamese Guyanese Organization
Celebrates its 25th Anniversary
For three days from June 28th to 30th the Stichting Suriname Hindu Guyanese Cultural Organization Shiv Shakti Samadj (SHGCO) celebrated their 25th Anniversary. The three day Yajna was a major success and was attended by approximately 1200 people. The SHGCO was formed a few years before 1988, but was officially registeredin 1988 by Jairam Ghir, Sanco Bhuddhu and Eliah Krishna Sammy. The Shiv Shakti Samadj Mandir is located on Saronkoloniweg Number 12, Beekhuizen, Paramaribo, Suriname. It was founded to uplift the significant Guyanese population socially, culturally and religiously. Over the decades they have hosted numerous tabla, singing and dancing events and performances particularly for the youth from Paramaribo all the way to Nickerie. Several groups and organizations from the United States of America, India, China and Brazil have visited the Shiv Shakti Samadj Mandir to conduct seminars and presentations.
Throughout its history this organization has been called upon on many occasions by the Embassy of Guyana and other organizations to assist in the planning and execution of cultural events. As recently as May 25th, 2013 when Guyana celebrated their 47th Independence Anniversary, the President of the Suriname Hindu Guyanese Cultural Organization Mr. Eliah Krishna Sammy and Haimdat Sawh were the Co-Masters of Ceremony. The event was published in various online news sites such as All Voices, Dagblad Suriname and Guyana Chronicle. The SHGCO supports the elderly with monetary, assists with the arrangements for momentous events in people’s lives, such as weddings, funerals etc.
On Friday June 28th and Saturday June 29th the program started at 7:30 pm and ended at 11:30 pm. While on Sunday June 30th the program started at 8:00 am abd ended at 1:00 pm. Pandit Prabu Deosharma from Guyana was the officiatingpreist. He was ably accompanied by Pandit Misir, Pandit Avinash Dindiyal and Pandit Tagenauth.
What is a Yajna ? In Hinduism Yajna , Yagya, Yadnya or Yagam is a ritual of offerings accompanied by chanting of Vedic mantras. The worship, prayer, praise, offering and oblation, sacrifice derived from the practice in Vedic times. Yajna is an ancient ritual of offering and sublimating the herbal preparations in the fire. The sublime meaning of the word Yajna is derived from the Sanskrit verb yaj, which has a three-fold meaning of worship of deities, unity and charity. An essential element is the ritual fire – the divine Agni – into which oblations are poured, as everything that is offered into the fire is believed to reach God. This Yajna comprised of Kirtans, Bhajans, Artie and the main discourse by Vyas.
The Vyast Prabhu Deo Sharma spoke on the first night on the Shri Ramcharitmanas an epic poem in Awadhi, composed by the 16th-century Indian poet, Goswami Tulsidas (c.1532–1623). Ramcharitmanas literally means the "lake of the deeds of Rama." Tulsidas compared the seven Kandas of the epic to seven steps leading into the holy waters of a Himalayan lake which "which purifies the body and the soul at once." The core of the work is a poetic retelling of the events of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, centered on the narrative of Rama, the crown prince of Ayodhya. Today, it is considered one of the greatest works of Hindu literature. Its composition marks the first time the story of Ramayana was made available to the common man for song and performance. The text is associated with the beginning of the tradition of Ramlila, the dramatic enactment of the text. It was Tulsidas aim to make the story of Ramlila accessible to the masses.
The Vyas asked a few question to the rapt audience on the first night. What is knowledge? What is detachment? What is Maya? What is devotion? He also dwelled on the duties and qualities of a leader, spiritual or otherwise. He stated that a leader should, “always be loving, selfless, compassionate, friendly, have a balance in life, to be free from ego (false pride) and willing to forgive.” He continued for leaders to be “be humble, simple, to be a sample and an example!” Vyas Prabu Deo Sharma touched on Karma and “Whatever we sow we shall reap.” Man must live by the command and dictates of God and to let our scripture be our guide. He urged the audience to not “allow these precious words to fall on deaf ears” and “now is the time that we implement these teaching into our lives so that we can become spiritually elevated, finding ourselves closer to the Lord.”
His Excellency Keith George the Ambassador to Suriname from Guyana was invited to address the invitees on the first night of the Yajna. Ambassador Keith George spoke of the significant achievement of the Stichting Suriname Hindu Guyanese Cultural Organization Shiv Shakti Samadj (SHGCO) celebrating their 25th Anniversary. He referred to the achievements of Guyanese in Suriname and of the many whose immigration papers were not regularized. Consequently they were living as second class citizens and more importantly their children were not getting the appropriate education. Ambassador Keith George encouraged the large audience for each one to tell other friends and family who were in this immigration tangle to come to the Embassy of Guyana in Paramaribo and get apply for all the requisite documents, such as birth certificates and passports.
On the second night Second night the Vyas made three points:
I. Man must not be carried away by the material acquisitions, instead use whatever resources he may have to make the world a better place.
II. Let us be aware of this great gift God has given to us, that is the Human Body, to always be in the contact with him.
III. The importance of education and knowledge, both academically and spiritually.
On the third day the Vyas addressed the audience If we want to be successful we need to allow Shri Ram to govern our lives. A most exemplary person is Guruji Sammy who have been exhorting the members over the years to practice these teachings during the course of their lives. The Vyas encouraged the absorbed listeners to use the example of “Guruji Sammy as a model for all of us , so that we will always be in love with GOD.”
For 25 years the Stichting Suriname Hindu Guyanese Cultural Organization Shiv Shakti Samadj have been continuously serving the Surinamese Guyanese population. This is a significant milestone and all members and well-wishers should be very proud of their longevity especially considering that in Suriname there has been a proliferation of cultural organizations. It is a rarity to find one that has lasted 25 continuous years. In some extreme cases the same individuals when not happy with one organization or do not get their own way goes “organization hopping”, registering new names with the same old mandates and charters. One organization has already gone through 5 iterations! This makes the SHGCO even more unique in the annals of Surinamese Guyanese organizations to have lasted this long.
The level of leadership, cooperation and energy that had to be expended to keep the SHGCO, not only functioning, but flourishing had to be extraordinary! It is said that an organization’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions. A culture that members agree about and that specifically focuses on adaptability will grow faster financially than their competitors. While the SHGCO may not have grown financially because this is not an objective, they have far exceeded expectations in their community and beyond. The experiences gained throughout these years have made this organization resilient and strong enough to weather whatever current and future storms come their way.
Preparations for the 3 day Yajna began weeks before with the washing of the walls and the walkways; painting of the entire Mandir; decorating the entire Mandir with streamers, flowers and balloons; installation of fans; compacting a few tons of cubic meters of sand in front of Mandir for cars to park; cleaning of the kitchen and assembling the pots, pans etc.; cutting the lawns; organizing teams of people to greet, clean, cook, breakdown, distribution of food, drinks etc. and soliciting for donations from members, well-wishers companies. The SHGCO has about 80 active families and over 250 individual members. Special thanks goes out to a few companies for their generous donations, namely, Delip Sardjoe – cases of Thrill sodas, Wahaha - with gallons of water and Fernandes - with cases of soft. Further RBN (Rapar Broadcasting Network) Channel 5 with Arti Lachmon for her interview with member of SHGCO Minache Eliah-Sawh, associate of SHGCO Haimdat Sawh and friend of SHGCO Milton Drepaul regarding the 25th Anniversary Celebrations and an article in the Wednesday July 3rd, 2013 DagBlad Suriname Newspaper.
For the three days the Shree Radha Krishna Madir, Shree Gopal Mandir, Youth Organization - Sulan, Shree Shakti Samadj Lakshmi Sabah, Hindu Sanskriti Mandalie, Shree Shakti Mandir, Sanskriti Panchayak Mandalie, Maha Kali Devi Durga Mandir and Prem Sagar Shakti Samadj joined in the celebratory events with renditions of Bhajans and Kirtans.
I. On the first night Shri Gopal Mandir, Hindhu Satsangh, Vanessa Ramchand, Rosaline Ramchand and Surya Mandir performed.
II. On the second night these organizations and individuals performed, Surya Mandir, Prem Sagar Shakti Samadj, Hindu Satsangh, Shri Radha Krishna Mandir, Shri Gopal Mandir (Sulan), Vanesa Ramchand, Shri Gopal Mandir Youth Organization (Sulan), Rosaline Ramchand, Pandit Misir Indradeo, Pandit Dindial Mohan and Pandit Tagenauth.
III. On Sunday morning the Suriname Hindu Guyanese Cultural Organization Shiv Shakti Samadj sand all the Kirtans and Bhajans.
For an event on this scale providing bhojan or vegetarian food for all the attendees was very important. Below is a list of some of the main ingredients used in the preparations. 25 kilos of garlic, 10 kilos of onions, 30 packs of milk, 60 kilos of rice, 50 kilos potatoes, 25 kilos dhal, 5 bundles of bora, 60 kilos of pumpkin, 80 eggplants, 12 bundle of bajee (spinach) , 45 kilos flour, 30 liters of cooking oil, 15 kilos of sugar, 3 kilos of salt, and numerous other spices and ingredients.
Special thanks to the leadership of the SHGCO:
I. President Guruji Sammy Krishna Eliah
II. Vice President Basil Seepersaud
III. Advisor Radica Eliah
IV. Secretary Bibi Seepersaud
V. Treasurer Paro Persaud
VI. Aid and Distress Lena Jaman
VII. Treasurer Kamla Samaroo
VIII. Head Committee Seeta Tulsiram
The SHGCO is very pleased with the way the Surinamese and Guyanese community supported this three day Yajna. Feedback from many who attended or watched the programs on the television was extremely positive. The SHGCO community feels more connected and has a clearer appreciation of the work that this society has done over these past 25 years. The society feels empowered to go forward with new and exciting plans in the near future. Guruji Sammy Krishna Eliah sincerely thanks all of those who have invested so much dedicated energy in supporting him and the SHGCO!. Long live the Stichting Suriname Hindu Guyanese Cultural Organization Shiv Shakti Samadj!!