Henry declared that “I am not a chatree so I may not know when there is Diwali or Phagwah but I do know what it takes to improve the education sector.”
She made the remark while she was being called out by Opposition Parliamentarians about her mix up of the two most popular Hindu holidays in Guyana – Phagwah and Diwali.
The President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Dr. Vindhya Persaud has since criticised the Minister’s utterances and called on her to apologise to the Hindu community.
“The Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry should apologize to the Hindu community for her offensive and disrespectful statements made in the Parliament during her speech where she said” I am not a “Chatree”, I don’t know whether it is Diwali or Phagwah. This is gross disrespect to the Hindus.”
Dr. Persaud added, “that a senior functionary in charge of the education of the young people in Guyana would arrogantly condone her lack of knowledge about our national Hindu festivals, when, the youngest Guyanese child learns about this in school. And worse, in a secular Guyana where cohesion is being touted, she blatantly dismisses a major section of the population is disgusting and unacceptable..
Dr. Persaud also noted that “using the Sanskrit word, Kshatriya, which means warrior as part of a disrespectful statement shows how belittling she is of Hindus, their faith and culture. She has totally disregarded the concept of respect for each other’s faith and culture and continues to show she has no remorse.”
Former Attorney General, Mr. Mohabir Anil Nandlall also blasted the Minister for her remarks.
“Nicolette Henry, our Minister of Education says in National Assembly of this country, as part of her official presentation in this year ‘s Budget Debate that she is not a “Chatree” and therefore she does not have to know the difference between Phagwah and Diwali…let that sink in a little…and you will realize how racist, discriminatory, bigoted , divisive and inappropriate that statement is.”