Phagwah Parade 2017 will fill Richmond Hill streets with floats of revelers, sounds of joy, and copious amounts of red dye on Sunday, March 12, from noon until whenever it ends — probably around 8 p.m.
At least 100,000 people from all around the NYC TriState Area are expected for this 29th annual Indian-Caribbean ritual that’s based on a Hindu festival called “Holi.”
The formation will build up all morning in the vicinity of Liberty Avenue and 133rd Street. Sari-clad women and local business owners will climb on a few dozen floats that blare tropical and spiritual music while also promoting the sponsors.
After kick-off, the procession will roll westward on Liberty Avenue with celebratory crowds on both sidewalks. Many spectators will throw talcum, perfume, and water at each other in a good-natured manner. At 125th Street, the floats will turn right and head north to Phil Rizzuto Park at 92nd Avenue for a cultural program.
With incense burning, participants will play instruments such as sitars and tablas, sing, chant, and dance until after darkness falls. Treats such as roti and curried meats will be for sale.
The Phagwah Parade first appeared in the Caribbean in the 18th century, after Indians had immigrated to Guyana, Trinidad, and other spots to work as indentured servants.
Richmond Hill hosted its first Phagwah Parade in 1988, after a large number of Indian-Caribbeans had settled in the area.
Pronounced as if the “h” were silent, Phagwah (Pagwa) is part the Holi festival celebrated after the first full moon on the Hindu calendar. Also known as “The Festival of Colors,” and “The Festival of Shared Love,” it combines a new year’s observance with a commemoration of the triumph of good over evil.
Images courtesy of Digital Photo Buddy