Guyana National Assembly rebuffs Hindu prayer request

The National Assembly of The Parliament of Guyana has turned down requests to have Hindu opening-prayer in an upcoming session.

Assembly Assistant Clerk Deslyn West, in an email to distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed (who requested that he be scheduled to read opening-prayer in an upcoming session of the Assembly, and received the denial) wrote: “we have a religion-neutral policy, and the Speaker is not in favour of departing from this norm”. West added: “we have a universal prayer that is read in the Parliament at every Sitting, and this was/is the norm for decades”. Currently National Assembly Clerk Sherlock Isaacs reads this “universal prayer”.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and who wrote to the Assembly Speaker Manzoor Nadir and received the denial; feels that it is a case of unfairness, discrimination, favoritism; and does not speak well of a democratic society.

Rajan Zed is of the view that this so-called “universal prayer” appears to be tilted towards one religion and does not contain the elements of all religions observed in Guyana.

Zed suggests that it is time for the Guyana National Assembly to move to multi-faith opening prayers. Since the Assembly represents every Guyanese irrespective of religion/denomination/non-belief, it would be quite befitting in this increasingly diverse country to do a rotation of prayers representing major religions and indigenous/folk spirituality and including slots for the thoughts of non-believers.

As adherents of all religions, including minority religions, and non-believers have made a lot of contributions to Guyana and continue to do so and paid their share of the taxes; they should all get representation in the Assembly prayer. Democratic governments should not be influenced by one religion or the other; Rajan Zed, who has opened both the United States Senate and US House of Representatives in Washington DC with Hindu prayers, emphasizes.

Zed thinks that the existence of different religions is an evident symbol of God’s generosity and munificence. Guyana National Assembly should quest for a unity that hailed diversity.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.2 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

Parliament of Guyana was created in 1966 and is based in Georgetown. Assembly has 65 members and Mark Anthony Phillips is the Prime Minister of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

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