Religion In Guyana

Religion in Guyana is for many, unapologetically “boasting their faith” in God, Mohammed, Buddha, or even Obeah. Cultural renditions of religion are scattered throughout the country. Some as colorful rituals for ancestral spirits along the Atlantic shoreline. Some as shaman zeal in wide savannah and rainforest regions.

As shown in the chart, religion in Guyana exists as:

  • Hindu:Tamil (Madrasi) The majority in East Berbice-Corentyne region. 39.8% of Guyana is East Indian. 24.8% Hindu. Phagwah and Deepavali are National Holidays. Temples. Tain Hindu Mandir; Central Vaidik Mandir [1]
  • Christianity: Among 1. The Protestant are Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventist, Anglican or the Church of England, Wesleyan, Church of God, etc. 2. The Roman Catholic Church.
  • Other” includes notably, Rastafarian, and Obeah, two surviving faiths peculiar to Guyana’s African and Caribbean religious ancestries.

Did You Know? In Guyana as elsewhere, the temptation to equate religion with politics is irresistibly, huge. Many people seem to see both religion and government as crucial developmental blocks for who we are as individuals, or who we collectively are as a nation.

Yup. With the connection of faith and politics (the application of civic awareness and involvement), people who reject joining with others to worship are typically: 1. Self-serving. 2. Prone to display an inability or disdain for healthy community sharing, or 3. Known to have regularly experienced bouts of illogical depression or anger.

While politics and religion are “problematic” both are clues to the motivation of would-be leaders. So, in Guyana as elsewhere, people who seek public office, but shun “Do to others as you’d like done to you” are actually, acting out their personal religion of “I’m in this primarily for me – as was the case with the adoption of aapan jaat.

Given the plurality in Guyana’s groups of faith or religion, the potential for “separatist trouble” appears unavoidable. However, a healthy way to wellness can happen with a goal to “arise from the ashes of our past” (My Guyana El Dorado) by agreeing on “What to let go”. Recently Deonandan, in “Letters to the Editor” courageously recommended:

Let’s Kick Aapan Jaat For Good

Guyana has been stained with this curse which originated in the 1950s. The meaning of this Hindi word ‘aapan jaat’ meant “Blackman for Blackman Coolie for Coolie.” This curse embraces both Indo and Afro-Guyanese to the point it shaped the political culture and presents itself in the very fabric of our plural society.[2]

In this regard, the query, “Can Guyana benefit from the experiment of America to rigorously apply term limits for her leaders?” It’s challenging, but arguably a better choice for a leader to focus on nation building rather than legacy building. Yet admittedly, fifty-five years after independence is still a relatively short time to build “one nation our of many’ diverse religions, cultures, and ethnicities.

And despite long years of struggle among the poor and marginalized in Guyana, it may be better days may grow from a renewed adherence to tireless faith. In cities as well as rural communities across Guyana, “making the best of it” reflects faith as the sole reliable beacon” for eventually – the best in this first life. In “Direct Your Attention Well” Daniels noted:

If we have high expectations for the temporary things of this life, we are setting ourselves up for disappointments and despair, for the only thing that is permanent in life is change. … In the science of spirituality, attention is the outer manifestation of our soul. Direct it well and we need not fear or despair for broken relations. [3]

In closing, the following offers hope for differing faiths in Guyana, and not surprisingly, signals how “education leads the way”.

As it turned out, the East Coast High School started with 39 students and 3 teachers; namely, myself as the head, together with Ramesh Shastri and Bunny Smith. Ramesh conducted prayers for the Hindus and Bunny for the Christians. We were in a quandary as to what to do with the 5 Muslim students who were among the initial 39, and for whom I was determined to make proper arrangements.[4]

Thankfully, we can appreciate the above interfaith effort in Guyana. For as was the case of Saul who miraculously became Paul, God can reach past even “shackles of religion” to draw whom he chooses to himself. So, as ministry sharing partners, the above “circles of faith” alerts and urges — as Jesus tarries, to faithfully work — and serve. 


Carlton J. Bruce aka Dr B.
GO! Editor & Ministry Partnership Development

[2] Deonandan, Chandradat, “Lets Kick Apaan Jaat for Good”,
[3] Daniels, Kenneth, “Direct Your Attention Well”,
[4] Persaud, Norang, “Confusing the Origins of Hindu College”,