So many uses for the Coconut – by Francis Quamina Farrier
It is safe to say that the just concluded Coconut Festival here in Guyana, was a great success. I will not be telling you about what the Powers-that-be had to say at the opening ceremony, as they made their official verbal presentations. Instead, I will tell you what I saw as an ordinary person, speaking with other ordinary citizens who attended the festival, and what was on display.
First, let me tell you of one of the banners promoting the Coconut Festival, which was hung on the fence of the National Library, at the corner of Main and Church Streets in downtown Georgetown, just opposite the Cenotaph. It was an attractive and eye-catching piece of graphic art-work, and I am sure that it did the job for which it was placed there; and that was to inform and induce passers-by, to go to the Arthur Chung Convention Center on the Lower East Coast of Demerara, where the Coconut Festival was being held.
The dates of the Coconut Festival were October 21 to 23, 2016, in this Guyana’s Jubilee Year. I attended on Saturday October 22, and spent well over four hours there, interacting with the many stall holders as well as other visitors, who like myself, were very impressed with the variety of coconut-based items on display. For example, there were various brands of Coconut Oil including the Virgin Oil and the popular Meadow Brook Coconut oil produced by the Pomeroon Oil Mill at Charity on the Pomeroon river, in Region Number 2.
Other coconut-based products on display at that very inspiring Coconut Festival here in Guyana, included a bath soap with the apt name, “Naked Skin”. There was a stall which displayed fancy women’s hats made of the coconut fiber. And just in case you might be wondering whether there was a coconut-based alcoholic beverage at the Festival, let me tell you right away, that there was a Coconut rum. I must also let you know that there were many coconut-based toys and jewellery on display. Also garments which were embellished with coconut shell pieces. In that area of the Festival, was also the ‘humble’ pointer broom.
What I particularly found interesting, was the wide variety of Guyanese, as well as non-Guyanese, who attended that Coconut Festival. One gentleman wore a “T” shirt which had the images of coconut trees on it. He told me that it was purposeful that he wore that particular shirt to the Coconut Festival. There were also quite a number of students who were there. Students from the Belladrum Secondary School came all the way from the West Coast of Berbice, Region Number 5, They were evidently, and obviously, enjoying their visit to the Coconut Festival.
Earlier, I mentioned the four coconut trees which are at the front of the Arthur Convention Center; and now I need to let you know that there are also many coconut trees at the back of the Center. So it is also safe to say that the Arthur Chung Convention Center is sandwiched with coconut trees. It may also be safe to say that there is a resurgence of the use of the previously demonized coconut; especially its use in the kitchen. There is also a not-too-well known use of the coconut. I attended an 85th Birthday Pooja just a day before I attended the Jubilee Year Coconut Festival in Georgetown. And there I saw, the coconut being used as an important element of a Religious Ceremony.
“Coconuts in use at the 85 Birthday Pooja Ceremony of Ma Jadoopat, at Grove, East Bank Demerara, last week Friday October 21, 2016.”
Francis Quamina Farrier displaying a bottle of Meadow Brook Coconut Oil at the Coconut Festival on Saturday October 22, 2016.
“The Coconut Festival banner on the fence of the National Library in Georgetown”
Pastor Noel wearing his “Coconut ‘T’ shirt” at the Coconut Festival