Guyana – Four drown after religious ritual
GEORGETOWN –– Four persons are now dead after drowning while taking a swim at the koker at Vergenoegen, East Bank Essequibo following a religious ritual on Monday.
Dead are 56-year-old Radhika Persaud and her 15-year-old son Ravin Persaud, a student of Leonora Secondary School, both of Lot 32 Vergenoegen Public Road. Also dead are Persaud’s great-niece and nephew nine-year-old Annatina “Tina” Persaud, a student of Parfaite Harmonie Primary School, and 12-year-old Billy “Amit” Narine, of Houston Secondary School, who lived at Lot 2402 Onderneeming, West Bank Demerara.
According to information reaching the Guyana Times, Radhika had a religious function earlier that day and left home around 4 p.m. with the three children to go to the nearby seawall to perform a Hindu ritual, but never returned.
Guyana Times was told that the religious function was a “one-year” memorial Puja/shraadh/ sacrament for a grandmother who had died in March, 2014. Typically after Pujas/sacraments the flowers and other materials which are offered to the deities in worship are all collected and taken to be immersed in the ocean, which represents Mother Ganga. Those who died were said to be doing the later task and then drowned at the koker.
Meanwhile, Dularie Bahagman, the sister-in-law of the dead woman, related that when she got to the house around 5 p.m., she was told that they had not returned from the shore. The sister-in-law said that after waiting for some time, she sent Radhika’s sister and other relatives to look for them, but they returned with the clothes the four were wearing, which were found lying on the shore.
“I keep insisting that they go back and they come back again, saying them ain’t find no one. So I take the road and ask a old man to go with me, because this was like around 6 o’clock and the place getting dark,” she related. Bahagman said that she went to two relatives’ houses to check if the missing four were there, but they were not. She even checked a shop.
She recalled that they went back to the seawall and started to call out the names of the four missing persons. They then saw another relative heading towards them from further up the shore and she had the bucket which Persaud had left home with. It had washed up on the shore some distance away.
The woman said that they got scared and continued calling for the missing people and she noticed some bubbles in the water at the koker.
“Is the li’l boy bubble up in the corner and then is when everybody go down. A boy from Philadelphia [neighbouring village] went down and start feel for the rest. The first one they feel and find is the big boy, Ravin, then they find he mother, Radhika, and then they find Tina. That was the last of it,” she disclosed.
The sister of Radhika and grandmother of the two younger children, Dhanwatie Persaud, told the Guyana Times that they had gone to attend the function and the children went with her sister to go take a swim. The woman said that after an hour had passed, they became worried and she went to the shore, but found no one there.
“All I see is me nephew jersey and me grandson clothes and a slippers. I say that they probably gone somewhere and gon come home when they ready, so I pick up the clothes and take it home,” she recalled.
The grieving woman continued that after about 30 minutes, she got more worried and told her daughter to call around to see where the children were. She added that they then left to go back to the seawall and when they saw the bucket, she realized her worst fears had come true.
“I done know my sister would never leave the bucket like that; so we start scream and holler down. The neighbours and villagers come and enquire what happen, then the water start go down and we see Ravin. We call the police and when they come, them and the villagers start search and find the rest,” she cried.
Radhika and her son lived alone. Her husband died a few years ago. The two younger children were living with their grandmother and mother. The bodies of all four persons are currently at the Ezekiel Funeral Parlour.