Phagwah celebration

Phagwah celebration|Phagwah celebration
Organizer Vijay Bisram with follower at the Phagwah festival in Queens.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Indo-Guyanese Americans immersed themselves in vibrant Abeer (colored powder) and the playing of Phagwah, to welcome the spring season on the Hindu calendar.

The highly-spirited festival that celebrate good over evil, came together after spiritual blessings were rendered by swami Shiveshwarandaji Maharaj at the American Sevashram Sangha Mandir, in Jamaica Queens.

March 6 marked the end of the winter and the beginning of spring on the Hindu calendar that was observed by scores of religious devotees who welcomed Holi, or Phagwah, a spiritual and most beloved festival in the religion.

The nationals participated in a chowtal – a session of singing of spiritual songs, while playing instruments, during four hours of festivities, in the temple that was decorated with jeweled idols.

Devotees sat on the floor to pray over an urn of fire, before the Swami Maharaj prayed to the almighty Lord Shri Krishna and deliver an inspiring sermon that called on worshipers to embrace each other in the true sense of brotherhood and sisterhood during the religious holiday.

Enjoyed with great fanfare, the Hindus feasted on sweet meats and vegetarian roti and curry, after which, they danced to the rhythms of the Recklez Riddimz Tassa band, and in merriment threw colored powder and liquids at each other. The greeting was, “Happy Holi,” in the true spirit of friendship, joy, merriment and love. Gifts were also exchanged among family members.

During the joyous time, devotees were told to think good, speak good and do good and be strong, brave and confident. Holi celebrates the power of the truth and the ultimate victory of good over evil. Let your lives be colored with all that which is noble were the wishes for the flock.

According to Swami Maharaj, Holi derives from the name Holika. Prahlada was born to Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons. Unable to tolerate Prahlada’s devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakshyap attempted to kill his son several times by poisoning him and throwing him from the top of a mountain but failed each time.

In the end, he ordered his son to sit on a pyre on the lap of his demon sister, Holika, who was protected from being burned by fire. Prahlad accepted his father’s command and survived unharmed from the fire while Holika burned to death.

Event organizer Vijay Bisram is dedicated to engaging the youth in the community to carry on the Hindu tradition of Holi celebration at the multi-resource temple, which offers free tutorial in computer, high school and SAT classes.

Drummer Peter Toshan entertains celebrants at the Phagwah celebrations.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

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