Phagwah Parade and Festival

Photo taken by Nirmal Singh from The Courier

On March 11, 2012, the annual Phagwah Parade ran along Liberty Avenue to Smokey Oval (Phil Rizzuto) Park. Throughout the parade, many organizations showed off their pride with floats and flags displaying their nationality. Music, singing, and dancing livened up the spirit of the parade as they move down to the park. 1 People of all ethnicities came together and celebrated Holi, a festival in the Hindu religion celebrating the start of the spring season.2

Holi, also known as “Festival of Colors,” usually occurs over two days during the time of the final full moon in the month of Phalguna. This holiday is a significant festival on the Hindu calendar. It is claimed that it started before Christ and based on a few legends. The most important legend, the legend of Holika, is about how Holika(the sister of King Hiranyakashyap) tried to kills his son by holding him and walking through a fire, under the King’s command. She was granted the power to not die from fire, but had ended up dying from fire when she tried to kill the young boy. Holi’s first day event was greatly influenced by this legend, as the bonfire on that day represents the fire in the legend. However this legend did not influence how Holi is celebrated on the second day, the way it is celebrated in New York City. The legend of Radha-Krishna is about how Lord Krishna was jealous about Radha’s “fair complexion” as a child, and her mother advised him to make Radha’s complexion like his by covering his face. This created the main event of the second celebratory day, where people drench each other in colors. 3

Holi allows people of different social class to interact with one another, making it a day where the Hindu caste system is forgotten momentarily.4 People in Richmond Hill, Hindus and Non-Hindus, participated in celebrating Holi by throwing colored powders and liquids at one another. Many organizations contribute to the parade, providing snacks and drinks to thousands of participants. The neighborhood welcomes all to join in on the celebration of Holi, following parts of the original holiday with the throwing of dyes and feasting. This parade has been going on since 1990, planned by the Hindu Parades and Festival  Committee, and attracts the largest Guyanese population out of all the ethnicities that join the event. 1
Photographs by Sam Horine from TimeOut New York

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