Queens residents celebrate Phagwah

The sunny, warm weather on Sunday, March 11 certainly complemented the arrival of spring in the Hindu calendar, that was celebrated at the 24th Annual Phagwah Festival in Richmond Hill, Queens.

Also known as Holi, the festival attracted an estimated 25,000 Indo-Caribbean nationals who lined Liberty Avenue to witness beautifully decorated floats, and revelers who danced to the sound of recorded Indian music and tass drumming.

Many on foot were dressed in traditional Indian regalia, carrying banners and flags that represented their rich cultural heritage. Young and old got into the merriment of throwing colored dyes on each other to celebrate the colorful flowers in bloom in the spring season.

The white clothes and faces of the festival goers were covered in the “Abrac” powder in red, yellow, blue, green and pink.

Traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on the Hindu calendar, Holi also celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the welcome of the New Year.

The festival culminated with a spectacular cultural presentation in Smokey Oval Park in Richmond Hill. Elected officials John Liu, David Weprin and Peter Vallone, who attended the celebration, complimented the community on their achievement.

Guyana’s Ambassador to Washington Bayney Karran, who was one of the grand marshalls, praised the parade organizers for putting on the festival and parade in what he called “an efficient and peaceful manner.”

“People are having a good time,” said Karran who noted that Phagwah was the biggest festival in Queens.

“This is a tremendous celebration for the community,” said Karran who recalled that the first festival 24 years ago was only attended by 70 people.

“It is a blaze of color; culture, fun and frolic,” said the ambassador excitedly. “I am happy to be here,” he added.

Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to New York, Dr. Neil Parsan used the season of renewal and commencement of spring as a way to make a positive contribution and acknowledged this festival in particular as it coincides with the 50th Independence Anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago.

A representative from the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg complemented the Hindu Parades and Festival Committee before handing over a proclamation to member Pandit Ramlall.

Others in attendance were Guyana Consul Brentnold Evans, Executive Director of GABPC, Shanie Persaud, politician Albert Baldeo and prominent businessmen Herman Sing and Romeo Hitlall.