Phagwah Parade in New York

The New York West Indian Community will celebrate the festival of Phagwah, the Hindu and Indo-Caribbean celebration of the new year, on Sunday March 20, 2011. The annual parade will begin on 132nd Street at Liberty Avenue and will conclude at Smokey Park on 125th Street and Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hills, Queens, New York. The parade begins around 11:00am and extends about 4-5 hours.

Celebrating the triumph of good over evil, it is a very vibrant celebration where various colored dyes, powers and perfumes are used to rub or throw on each other. Specifically, in Hindu lore, the celebration came about when a despotic King Hiranya was ordered to be burnt alive by his son Prince Prahalad because of the suffering which his people endured at the hands of the king. Abeer, which is a red dye, is popular and traditionally used to celebrate the festivities. It symbolizes the blood of the despotic king that was shed so the people could free.

Baiganchoka advises, “If you intend to take photos, a waterproof protector for your camera is well worth the investment. Most of the dyes used are easily washed away with a good bath or two. Your clothing might be a different story as it takes several washes to get them clean if at all. So don’t come with your best outfit.”

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