Revelers ready themselves for Phagwah festivities

By Shanice Punnett

The Hindu Parades and Festival Committee will host its 26th annual Phagwah Parade Sunday in Richmond Hill.

The parade kicks off at 12 p.m. and ends at 6 p.m. with a concert featuring music and cultural performances at Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park on Atlantic Avenue between 127th and 125th streets.Floats will leave from 133rd Street and Liberty Avenue going west on Liberty, then north on 125th Street to the park.

It is recommended that attendees of the annual Indo-Guyanese event celebrating South Asian culture in the Caribbean take public transportation since parking is limited in the neighborhood.

Organizing secretary Roy D. Singh said Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be attending this year, but Borough President Melinda Katz will.

Singh also said a number of city and state officials attend every year, including City Council members Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), state Sens. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton), and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck).

Singh said they come to the event and genuinely have a good time.

“They don’t just come for attention,” he said. “They usually enjoy themselves.”

Joyful participants decorate one another with colorful dye at the conclusion of the festivities in the park, formerly known as Smokey Oval Park.

Phagwah, also spelled “Phagwa,” is the traditional Hindu festival of spring. It is known as Holi in India, and there Hindus have celebrated it as the victory of good over evil for thousands of years. Traditionally, Hindus wear white and throw a liquid called abeer on each other.

Abeer is a red dye which in Hindu folklore symbolizes the blood of King Kiranya, whose son Prince Prahalad ordered that he be burnt alive because his people suffered at the hands of his father.

Participants in Queens include Hindus and non-Hindus who enjoy themselves in this good-natured celebration.

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