Suriname’s First Flag Raising Ceremony at Bowling Green NY

Suriname’s First Flag Raising Ceremony at Bowling Green NY

365 years after Suriname was traded for the city of New York and three days before celebrating its 48 Independence Day, the greenest country on the planet, had its first ever flag raising ceremony at Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan.


@whatnaturalslove Suriname Flag Raising #livinginnyc #suriname #ericadamsmayor ♬ original sound - WhatNaturalsLove


Making it happen

Mother of four, grandma of ten, miss Judith Naraine Colin started the ceremony by introducing herself and the Republic of Suriname. Currently serving as Community Resource Liaison and with Volunteers for America for 22 years, Miss Naraine Colin has been one of the most prominent women in the Surinamese community since 1987 when she moved to New York. Raising the Suriname flag at Bowling Green was her idea and throughout the day she was praised for getting the people together and making it happen.  

It took 110 mayors said Mr. Eric Adams, the first mayor who ever attended a Flag Raising Ceremony. The only elected official who made these ceremonies part of his agenda in an effort to promote diversity by acknowledging the contributions of immigrants, no matter how small the community.

Small communities can achieve great things

Humbled by the invite from miss Naraine Colin to speak, I took the opportunity to highlight the fact that it was the smallest nation of South America that broke a centuries-old stereotype around the world when Anthony Nesty became the first Black man to ever win Olympic gold on the 100-metre butterfly, just a few fractions of seconds before the American Matt Biondi in 1988. As the crowd cheered, I allowed them to proudly share with all who didn’t know, that Anthony Nesty currently serves as the head coach of the USA swim team.

Sitaldin Suriname
Ambassador Sunil Sitaldin with Singer Songwriter Hemant Somai.

Historical connection

Ambassador of Suriname Sunil Sitaldin started his speech by asking for a moment of silence to acknowledge the tragedy in which ten miners lost their lives a day before. He followed up with wishing the Suriname people a happy Independence Day for November 25th a day that also happens to be Evacuation Day in New York since 1783, when General George Washington rode into the city with his army as the British forces evacuated.

The Suriname ambassador continued with the historic exchange of 1667 when Suriname was traded for the city of New Amsterdam in a deal between the English and the Dutch. The ambassador then highlighted diversity of the nation, another topic high on the list of Mayor Eric Adams.

Mayor Eric Adams took a moment of silent for the loss of life of the miners and praising the Suriname community.

Mayor of a diverse city of immigrants

As the Mayor of a city of immigrants, a city of believers, a city of dreamers, Mr. Adams congratulated Suriname with its 48th Independence Day. Respectfully he also asked for a moment of silence for the lives lost in the mining accident before he continued to praise New York as one of the most diverse cities on the globe.

Proud to take credit for expanding the number of flags raisings, the mayor mentioned that it is all to reach this common faith of moving the city stronger, better together. A message well received by an audience emerged in diversity.

Diversity displayed

The diversity of Suriname was clearly at display at Bowling Green and I wonder if there have ever been so many different cultures in unity at a flag raising.

Besides the traditional outfits worn by the people of Suriname, from Pangi’s to a Saree, from Koto’s to Batik shirts, the performances and the gifts truly brought to light the different cultures that are the foundation of the republic.

Dressed in a beautiful bright yellow Nehru jacket, Singer Songwriter Hemant Somai, sang about the country’s well-known places guided by a mrdangam player while singing in his native language, Sarnami Hindi. Next up was singer Robby Eskak, dressed in a typical Indonesian Batik shirt singing in the language passed on by his ancestors.

Miss Maira Welcome, dressed in a traditional Surinamese Koto, took the Flag Raising ceremony to another level after the mayor was handed a few cultural gifts from the maroons of Suriname. Besides a traditional hand carved wooden plate, he also received a Pangi.

A Pangi is a traditional garment that can be worn different ways and has been used in a variety of ceremonies for centuries by the maroons from Suriname.

Pangis from Suriname
Judith Naraine Colin in Pangi 

Miss Maira elaborately demonstrated how one can wear a Pangi as a scarf around the neck or over the shoulder while using the mayor as a live canvas. The Pangi looked pretty nice on his impeccable dark suit and the mayor looked quite surprised with all that she demonstrated but Miss Maira was not done yet.

As the job of mayor isn’t always easy and recognizing the challenges he faces, miss Maira tied the Pangi around the mayor’s waist, showing him how to get strength from the garment. By pulling the Pangi tighter one is able to lift himself up to tackle any challenge that comes their way, a tradition that symbolizes strength to face challenges and rise above them. It was an amicable scene that got the crowd laughing and loosening up even more. 

With everybody in a good mood while the sun came from behind the clouds the stage was set for the raising of the flags.  

All attendees gathered around the poles to watch the raising of both the USA and the Suriname flag. The moment Ambassador Sitaldin raised the Suriname flag, the Surinamese peole started singing their anthem in both Dutch and Sranang tongo. That is how a small diverse community of immigrants created yet another true historic moment in the center of New York.

Also see Celebrating Culture, Art, Natural Hair and African Fashion at BAM Dance Africa in Brooklyn, NY 

Suriname Flag Raising NYC Judith Naraine, Mireille Liong
Meridith Simpson (Suriname Family Comitee), Judith Naraine, Mireille Liong, Sookranie Dhanpat South Asian community Liaison from the Mayors office.

Source: NY Times

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