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Guyanese Wedding Traditions


Guyana is a nation state located on the mainland of South America. English is the official language. In addition, Amerindian languages like Arawak, Macushi, Akawaio and Wai-Wai are spoken. A small minority speaks Guyanese Creole, which is English with African-Indian dialects and syntax. There is no standardized grammar in Guyana. In Guyana wedding celebrations, the African heritage can be seen. This is especially the case during the Black History Month and the anniversary of Emancipation. However, this seemingly rich cultural heritage has a range of misconceptions and a degree of superficiality.

Their significance from an African setting has a much wider meaning since these are seen as artistic performances or as cultural shows that offer theatrical performances, with a variety of dance, music and drama. Thus, these and other celebrations are seen as artistic exhibitions that are never taken seriously unlike Toronto weddings. They do not cover the ways of people’s lives in their clothing, agriculture or manners. Cultural traditions have faded drastically and many people are now unaware of the symbolism where these are displayed.

Just like nuptials in Toronto, cuisines are a necessity. It is common to have Guyana cuisines in the weddings. One of the Guyana delicacies is the pepper pot. The dish has been around for generations and many are fond of it. It is therefore no surprise that it forms part of the Guyana wedding traditions. The dish is served with crispy cassava bread. Duck curry is another food common tradition in Guyana weddings. In addition, one may find fried rice, puri and chowmein being served at the events. Just like in Toronto, a traditional wedding in Guyana will usually be done in a church. Alternatively, it can also be done at home. A home marriage ceremony is usually done by Guyanas who live far or outside Guyana in order to give them the freedom to enjoy an authentic Guyana environment. A backyard will usually do it.

After meals, guests are invited to participate in Guyana dances. Guyana music has maintained traditional elements from Africa, India and Europe and this mix of native elements has become important in influencing Caribbean, Brazilian and American music. Just like in Toronto, popular musicals will usually be played on wedding ceremonies while the Guyana couple dances. However, recently many Guyana weddings have hired live bands to play traditional songs. These bands use traditional woodwinds, prominent horns and other instruments that have been replaced by stringed instruments.

Many bands in Guyana are talented enough to entertain the audience with authentic Guyana traditional music. One of the most popular music in Guyana is Calypso. This type of music is played in a satirical lyrically oriented style in wedding celebrations. It will usually be accompanied by traditional musical instruments like sitar, harmonium, dholak, tabla, dhantal and tassa drums. Most of this music can also be based from Hindu songs called filmi or bhajans. One of the traditions that have remained is called tan singing, which is a unique singing style found among native Guyanese of the Indian community. Evidently, Guyanese wedding traditions have lost much of their authenticity, but they continue to be unique celebrations in our current world.

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Listed: October 5, 2009 4:38 am