Phagwah: The Holiday of Colors
I’m really excited about next Sunday. From what I’m told, if I go to Richmond Hill, Queens, on March 7, 2010, I’ll run into the biggest celebration in North America: The Phagwah Parade.
Phagwah is the Indo-Caribbean adaptation of the Indian Holi—a holiday that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and welcomes the spring. If the weather is agreeable, up to 25,000 come out to take part in the festivities. And by festivities, I mean a big colored-water fight.
As legend has it, the tradition of the colored-water fights comes from Lord Krishna and his love Radha. When the boyish Krishna complained to his mother that Radha’s skin was fairer than his, his mother encouraged him to put color on Radha’s face and watch her skin darken. Krishna was also known for his prankster way; a fun-loving youth, he often threw colored powder on local cowgirls. In commemoration of his undying love for Radha, party revelers throw colored powder or water on each other, and sometimes parade images of the lovers through the streets.
Here’s what you need to know if you plan on checking out the parade. A Guyanese friend of mine recently told me, “On Phagwah, everyone’s a child,” so hand the controls over to that child spirit inside of you. Absorb yourself in the festivities and don’t be afraid of a little food coloring. You’ll probably get sprayed anyway, so embrace the spirit of the celebrators and get stained! And don’t try to mask the hues by wearing dark clothing; Phagwah is a celebration of spring, of colors, of love; allow it to show—wear white!
If you’d like to read more about the many legends surrounding the holiday, go to http://hinduism.about.com/od/holifestivalofcolors/a/holybasics_2.htm
And if you want to be a part of this fun-filled kaleidoscopic experience, find out more information here: http://queens.about.com/od/holidays/p/phagwah.htm
Hope to see you there!
By: Rachel Weissman
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