By Gina Martinez
The 29th annual Phagwa parade is coming to Richmond Hill Sunday.
The parade is set to begin at noon on 133rd Street and Liberty Ave. and end at Phil Rizzuto Park, where cultural programs, which include dances and live music, will take place.
Richmond Hill is home to the largest Indo-Caribbean community in the United States. Phagwah, or Holi, is a Hindu spring festival also known as the Festival of Colors. During Holi, Hindus usually celebrate in the streets and spray friends and family with colored powders.
Just two years ago the parade was involved in controversy due to infighting. The parade’s permits were canceled by the NYPD for the first time in 2015 after disputes between the Hindu Parades & Festivals Committee and The Federation of Hindu Mandirs. The Hindu Parades faction had made accusations against the Federation of Hindu Mandirs and the NYPD. The Hindu Parades and the Federation both applied for permits on the same day last year, but the Hindu Parades had its permit pulled. Hindu Parades claimed it filed first in a civil suit against the NYPD. The Federation stopped the parade from being held for the first time since 1988.
In a January meeting the Joint Planning Committee of Phagwah Parade 2017 told reporters that all permits have been approved by the NYPD and that all key elements of the parade, including floats, performers, vendors and music, are in place.
“We are proud to contribute to the cultural diversity of the great city of New York by organizing and implementing an event like this parade,” Sagar Rajpal, a member of the planning committee, said. “We recognize that the Phagwah Parade is the community’s main cultural event and are committed to ensuring that we produce a spectacular parade.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart