The Guyanese flag. Stony Brook University’s Guyanese Student Alliance (GSA) held its first Mashramani, or Guyana’s Republic Day, event this weekend on Feb. 22. MELISSA AZOFEIFA/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook University (SBU)’s Guyanese Student Alliance (GSA) held its first Mashramani event on Feb. 22.

Mashramani, or Guyana’s Republic Day, celebrates the birth of the Republic of Guyana through dance, music and parades on Feb. 23. The GSA hopes to bring some of the culture of Guyana to Stony Brook and bring the community together.

“We don’t have the resources to have a big party like they do in Guyana,” Layla Essaily, president and founder of the organization, said. “This is a little bit of what we’re trying to bring… we want to make sure people have a good time and enjoy themselves.”

Located along the northern coast of South America, Guyana is home to a melting pot of ethnicities due to a long history of colonization. Originally home to the indigenous Amerindians, Guyana was colonized by the British and Dutch until their independence in 1966. A majority of the nation’s current population is mostly African and Indian as a result of the importation of slaves and indentured servants.

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Stony Brook’s GSA was founded only last year, making this weekend’s event the first of its kind at SBU. For students such as Paul Rambharose, a 19-year-old freshman electrical engineering and physics double major and first-generation Guyanese American, the event is held to high standards.

“The food will be amazing,” Rambharose said before the event began. “Lots of intermingling, and good music.”

Rambharose wasn’t disappointed. The night began with a performance from one of the GSA’s members, and featured a variety of foods ranging from curry chicken to fried plantains. Select audience members stood in the front of the room for a whining competition — a popular Caribbean dance style — where two competitors were crowned champions.

A night of good food and laughter was exactly what the club’s Public Relations Officer Johnathan Jailall was hoping for. “The event is a great way to reach out to the community and spread good vibes,” he said as the night ended.

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Many of the organization members revealed their Guyanese pride during a slideshow, where each member was given a slide where they had to express what they loved about being Guyanese.

“I’m truly blessed to be able to say that my upbringing is a mixture of two beautiful cultures,”  Essaily’s slide read.

“I love the diversity of music and being able to wuk up my waistline,” GSA Treasurer Brandon Banarsi’s slide added.

As the night drew to a close, the lights dimmed and the audience got to their feet to dance to the up-beat rhythm of Caribbean-style tunes. Rambharose joined the excitement.

“It turned out exactly as I expected,” Rambharose admitted. “Best part of it…it’s this.”

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The event was held in H Quad’s Center for Leadership and Service as part of Stony Brook’s Black History Month program

Correction 02/28/2020:
A previous version of this article misspelled the name of the Treasurer of The Guyanese Student Alliance as Brandon Bamarsi. The article has been updated to show the correct spelling of his name, which is Brandon Banarsi

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