It is said that religion is the ‘belief that, what man can see and observe, is a power, supernatural and divine, that influences life on earth’. That is, these beliefs are often times held by one’s faith and whatever that person belief is exists a relationship with his/her supernatural power. Religion in every sense has various point of contact. That posses a divine revelation of all truth that can be found in various books such as the Holy Bible, the Bhagwat Geeta and the Holy Quran which teaches about relationship with the supreme being and man, to love their fellow man in order to have everlasting life with their maker after death.
In Guyana religion plays a very important role in our lives. In that it, dictates our very lifestyles, social life, physical and spiritual life as well. Most Guyanese take part or belong to one of the dominant religions of the world – Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. These have been well represented in Georgetown and throughout Guyana with their own churches, Mosques and temples that have varying landmarks that features traditional architecture of the various cultures.
Hindus believe in one God or Supreme Being that is presented in many forms and names, because of its power and glory. The God is seen as Brahma, the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. In the Ramayan, the Vedas, the Mahabharat and the Bhagwat Geeta can be found in the readings and teachings that are used throughout the world. The Hindus worship in temples or mandirs that can be found around Guyana. Some of their religious festivals that are practiced by the Hindu community as well as other groups are Phagwah, Diwali which depicts the festival of light among others.
Muslims around the world believe and serve one God called Allah and this trend can be found here in Guyana as well. They follow the tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammed through whom they believe God had revealed to him teachings for mankind should follow. The Quran is the Islamic Holy book of teachings and their house or place of worship is the Mosque or Jamaat. They worship in prayers in Islam at least five times a day which is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Muslims also believe in fasting which is done through the month of Ramadan. That is, food can only be consumed during the night after prayers and in the morning before prayers. During this time they also give gifts or “Zakaat” and this is done at the festival.
Christianity is the religion that is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in one God who created the heavens and the earth and all creations in it. God sent his only Son Jesus Christ to save all of mankind from their sins and to bring peace on earth. His teachings depicted love and togetherness which can be seen from the holy Bible.
The various Christian denominations in Guyana include the Anglican Church which came with the English when they took control of Guiana from the Dutch. That is, Anglicanism became the country’s main religion of British Guiana until independence in 1966 and is stilled continued in Guyana as well. The Roman Catholic Church is another denomination on the branch of Christianity that was introduced to us by our Portuguese ancestors and is attended by all peoples in Guyana. Other denomination that shares the Christian faith are the Presbyterian Church, Methodists, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Congregationalists, Nazarenes, Moravians, Ethiopian Orthodox. Other sections in Guyana include the Rastafarian religion are a group of members the looks up to Ethiopia for religious inspirations, also the Hallelujah Church have a combination of Christian beliefs with Amerindian traditions.
Obeah and Amerindian Belief
In addition to the other major religions found in Guyana, there are other religions being practiced such as Obeah. Obeah is a folk religion of African origin, which they practice and is the belief of all immigrant groups. This is where members or persons would consult with the elders for help with a problem they may have that concerns health, work, domestic life, money, romance, etc. for this to work some villagers or persons may wear charms or use other forms of devices to protect themselves from any harm.
With the Amerindians religious beliefs may vary, but with this the shamans play a critical role in all of them. The shaman is the healer, advisor, representative of the village to the spiritual world, political leader and also the one who can communicate with the spirit world to detect sorcery and combat evil. But over the years Christian missionaries have been very intense to convert the Amerindians. Thus, resulting in traditional beliefs being changed or disappeared.