Owru Yari in Su! An experience in Suriname you won’t find anywhere else on the planet. Period. Once you’ve been exposed, no other place on Earth will do on December 31st.
For starters, the proper linguistic translation is non-existent, as “Owru Yari” refers to literally the last day of the year, and not the more common midnight New Year celebration. To grasp what is happening, one needs to peek into that concept of stopping in your tracks during the last 24 hours of the year. We are taking a moment to look back before we move into the new. In our farewell, we are reviewing, reminiscing, weighing what we’ve experienced in the prior year. We want to hold onto the good things, but most of all, we MUST bombard away - properly - the bad “spirits”.
In this ritual, we meet friend and foe, and effortlessly let down our guard to maximize our prospects. That ability is perhaps not a coincidence, as we - peoples originating from all ethnic corners of the world - have developed and continue to perfect a unique skill to live in harmony with each other, while at the same time maintaining the original cultural self.
Arguably, no other place in the world offers the kind of adaptation to one another’s culture, as can be experienced in Su on Owru Yari. The inescapable Kaseko dancing and prominent pagara detonating, particularly attest to that.
And so, on and running up to the 31st of December, one finds the Srananman gathering in every imaginable setting - from office party, social club, and music festival to the very streets of the cities.
Never in the long history of this celebration has there been one incidence of violence - not even when thousands are gathering for the annual Kawina Festival, the spontaneous hanging out near the final bus stop at “De Markt”, or the Pagara Estafette in inner city Paramaribo.
The pagara itself - courtesy of our bothers and sisters from China - is a string of smaller firecrackers, tied together in potentially endless ropes, with a concentration of bigger and more closely tied crackers at the end. The effect is a loud and continuous explosion in the ears, that resonates through your whole body, and climaxes in the deafening accelerated final eruption of the bombardment.
As the fire eats away, red wrappings pulverize and shoot up while a thick gunpowder smoke fills the air. Immediately following, the pagara next door takes off, and on and on it goes. At the same time, Suriname’s popular music bands are blasting from flatbed trucks, and slowly move along the estafette route. Smaller Amerindian and Marron music formations keep the crowd on their feet at every other corner. Bodies flocked together in an astonishing gaiety, moving passionately on the beat of the drums and the equally thorough pounding sound of pagara's.
The celebration continuous until 10 o’clock sharp in the Eve, when the next stop universally must be, reporting back to your mother’s house!
(text by kms)