Phagwah parade celebrates spring’s arrival

THE COURIER/Photos by Nirmal Singh

In celebration of a fast-approaching spring, the Hindu community gathered in Richmond Hill to celebrate Holi at the annual Phagwah parade. Over 3,000 people shared in this joyous event, throwing brightly-colored liquid and powder on each other, a tradition that reminds the participants that spring is near.

Holi is celebrated during the months of March and April, and while it is primarily a Hindu festival, it is also recognized as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious celebration that unites a community.

Several Hindu texts explain the significance of Phagwa. One tells the story of Prahalad, the son of an evil king named Hiranyakashipu. The king sought to destroy his son, enlisting the help of his equally evil sister, Holika – a figure who is said to be immune to destruction by fire. The king commanded Holika to end the boy’s life by throwing him into a fire. Inhibited by Prahalad’s strong faith, Holika’s powers were diminished and she succumbed to the fire.

The parade began at 33rd Street and Liberty Avenue on Sunday, March 11 around noon. Parade-goers, floats from various temples and even elected officials marched down Liberty Avenue and ended at Smokey Oval Park, where there were musical and cultural performances.

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