Image Source : PTI/REUTERS Stage set for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final in Guyana with Indian fervour and passion for cricket, especially with a match of such high stakes.

Georgetown: Guyana has been abuzz with anticipation and excitement leading up to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-final clash between India and England on Thursday. The atmosphere in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, reflects the fervour and passion for cricket, especially with a match of such high stakes. Given the strong cultural ties Guyana shares with India, particularly through its large Guyanese Indian community, support for the Indian cricket team is robust. The city is likely painted with the colours of Indian flags, banners, and enthusiastic fans gearing up to witness what promises to be a thrilling encounter.

Indians in Guyana

Guyana, the only English-speaking country in South America, presents a fascinating blend of cultures, prominently influenced by its Indian population. This influence is palpable throughout Georgetown, the capital city. Upon entering the Providence Cricket Stadium in Georgetown, visitors are greeted with explicit signs of Indianness. A prominent example is the “Bhojpuri Nights” banner, reflecting cultural events and nightlife that resonate with the Indian community’s heritage.

Georgetown boasts several significant cultural landmarks, such as the ISKCON temple, which stands as one of the largest temples in the city. Additionally, the presence of popular Indian eateries, like the one owned by former West Indies cricketer Ramnaresh Sarwan, adds to the Indian culinary experience.

“The Guyanese Indians are very powerful here. As far as places of Hindu worship are concerned, you would find a temple every four to five miles,” says Sarwan.

The Guyanese Indian community forms the largest ethnic group in the country, comprising more than 40% of the population. Descendants of indentured labourers brought from India during the British colonial era, many Guyanese Indians practice Hinduism, with temples dotting the landscape every few miles.

Indians in Guyana politics 

Politically, Guyanese Indians hold significant sway, evident in figures like President Irfaan Ali and former head of state Bharrat Jagdeo. This influence extends to cultural affinity, such as strong support for the Indian cricket team during international events hosted in Guyana.

Economically, Guyana has experienced a transformative shift with the discovery of substantial oil reserves in 2015, attracting global attention and investment. While Chinese companies contribute to infrastructure development, there are concerns about their employment practices favouring imported labour over local hires. “They did initially but now all of their employees are from China. How does it help us in the long run?” asks a travel agent seeking anonymity.

India, too, plays a role in enhancing Guyana’s infrastructure, with commitments like the USD 100 million road project in Georgetown. These initiatives underscore India’s strategic interest in supporting development in Guyana, strengthening bilateral ties beyond cultural affinities.

Overall, Guyana’s Indian community enriches the nation’s cultural tapestry while contributing significantly to its social, political, and economic dynamics.

(With inputs from agency)

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