Saturday, April 14, 2018 was proclaimed Phagwah Parade Day by NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio, whose representative, Nick Gulotta, presented a proclamation to the planning committee, co-chaired by Herman Singh and Romeo Hitlall to honor the Hindu and Indo-Caribbean communities’ 30th annual parade.
The politician applauded the organizing committee and other organizations, during a cultural presentation at Phil Rizzuto Park in Queens, for continuing to host “the outstanding celebration, while sharing it with all New Yorkers.”
The declaration reads; “Together we renew our shared commitment to protecting the wonderful diversity of our global city that is known to the world, to advance our values, inclusion and unity, and to ensure all residents have freedom to worship as they choose.”
The 80-degree temperature was idyllic for the historic event that attracted hundreds of spectators, who lined the streets to watch the colorful floats which showcased the Holi Hindu festival of colors that celebrate good over evil, and to welcome the spring season, after the first full moon on the Hindu calendar.
Nationals playful dousing each other’s traditional white attire with Abir — (colored powder) as the parade moved along Liberty Avenue, and ended at Phil Rizzuto Park, on Atlantic Avenue, where hundreds more, enjoyed the festivities while dabbing each other’s faces, and filling the air with plumes of red, yellow, blue, green and white powder, during an hours-long cultural celebration.
Councilman Eric Ulrich of District 32, waved Trinidad and Guyana flags, joyfully expressing his excitement to be at the commemoration.
“This is a spectacular, colorful, wonderful parade. I am so pleased to be here with my friends from all over Queens to celebrate Holi, the beginning of spring, and all of the wonderful contributions West Indians have made, not only to New York City, but to the American way of life,” he stated.
Co-chairman of the organizing committee, Herman Singh expressed pleasure at the large attendance stating, “We have a large turn out. We are one, we are wearing different colors, but we all look the same today.” He said people look forward to Chowtal singing, services at home, and greeting each other with joy. Singh said he was pleased with the warm weather that encouraged residents to attend the festivities.
Mahamed Q. Amin, founder, and executive director of the (LGBTQ) Caribbean Equality Project said, “Phagwah celebrate who we are, our religious freedom, our culture, and coming together in the community as one.”
Caribbean Life’s Award recipient, Danny Mohabir, owner of Bowl 360, was excited to connect with his fellow Hindus, stating, “On this joyous occasion, it is great being with our Guyanese people. We represent everyone on this joyous occasion. Phagwah is a celebration of our life, and once a year we get to connect and have a wonderful time in the community.”
Recent candidate for New York City Council and community leader, Richard David, applauded the large Hindu community which came out to celebrate Phagwah, and noted that this particular group is overlooked by the city, and promises to change that, when he campaigns again to represent his community.
President of the Guyana Tri-State Alliance, Patricia Jordon-Langford also brought Phagwah greetings, from Brooklyn.
A kolidiscope of bejeweled costumed dancers, including Alia and the Davi Dolls, the Shiv Ka La Dance Academy and Sonia Persaud, among others, lit up the stage with spirited choreography.
The festivities that began with prayers by Hindu leaders, including 91-Year old Grand Marshall, Pandit Ramlall, showcased the talents of youth. Entertainers included melodious Chowtall singing by the United Madrassi Foundation, and the Queens Hindu Mandir Youth Group, and others.
Popular Indian singer Terry Gajraj, known as Guyana Baboo, revved up the crowd with his infectious melodies that has made him world renowned.