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Phagwah Parade: A popular local celebration among Indo-Caribbean Hindu community returning in New York

Phagwah Parade

Queens, Feb 20 (UITV)- Phagwah is the celebration of Holi, a Hindu festival. Indo- Caribbean immigrants from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago brought the celebration to Richmond Hill.

It’s a typical community parade. Floats carry beauty pageant winners, businessmen and religious and political leaders down Liberty Avenue and over the Smokey Oval Park, where there is concert. The difference is the bright red, purple, orange and green dyes and powders that fill the air and coat the white cloths of revelers.

Scheduled to be held on March 26, it will be hosted by The Federation of Hindu Mandirs at Richmond Hills. Participants will dress up in all white and throw colors at each other, much like Hindu festival Holi. It is supposed to symbolize the advent of spring and the defeat of the evil.

Indians who went to the Caribbean as indenture labors in the 19th century and early 20th century brought the holiday to Guyana and Trinidad. The holiday flourished and gained the name Phagwah. In Guyana and Suriname, Phagwah became an important national holidays and everyone had the day off from work.

Since the 1970s many Guyanese have immigrated to the United States, especially to Richmond Hill and Jamaica in Queens, and brought the Phagwah tradition to their new home.

Last year it took a turn on the path of controversy due to the simultaneous applications from two different organizations hoping to bag in the charge of the event. Unfortunately, NYPD was pressurized by the two competing applicants, which ultimately led to the cancellation of the parade.

Referring to the celebration, parade organizer, Romeo Hitlall commented that the event is really crucial as it attracts a large number of people from all over the country.