Phagwah festival in memory of spiritual leader Pandit Ramlall

Consul General of Guyana to New York, Barbara Atherly, presenting an award plaque to Pandit Ramlall on behalf of the Guyana Cultural Association, (GCA) at the Awards Ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall in August 2018,.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

The Guyanese community in Queens will dedicate the 31st Annual Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hill to the late Pandit Ramlall, a scholar, author, teacher, and founder of the colorful festival that will be held on Sunday, March. 31.

Residents of the Indo-Caribbean community bid a sad farewell to Pandit Ramlall who died on Jan. 16. He was 91 years old.

Scores of tributes from local leaders, nationals, family, and friends hailed the religious leader as someone who has left behind a legacy for many to emulate during a week-long celebration of his life and a going home service at the Grace Funeral Home in Brooklyn on Jan. 31.

Pandit Ramlall, who pioneered many projects in his homeland Guyana and the diaspora, migrated to the United States from his rural village of Berbice, staying close to his community and steadfast to his Hindu religion.

He was the leader of the Arya Spiritual Center, an institution that molded, and educated youths, not only about religion but also about their culture. For all of this, he has received many awards and citations.

Guyana Consul General to New York, Barbara Atherly also paid tribute to Pandit Ramlall. Recently she presented him with a GCA plaque on behalf of the Guyana Cultural Association, (GCA), organizers of the Annual Folk Festival in Brooklyn.

For many years, and as recent as last year, Pandit Ramlall, rode a colorfully decorated car at the Phagwah Parade, and later in the year, on a brilliantly lit vehicle at the Annual Diwali Motorcade, as it moved along the streets of Richmond Hill.

Over the years, he also played a prominent role at the cultural presentation “Havan Kund” on the grounds of the Ayra Spiritual Center.

Acclaimed author, and community leader, Dr. Dhanpaul Narine said Pandit Ramlall stood tall as a person of principle and high ideals. “His many friends and admirers have stories that will fill many volumes, and they all attest to his moral values.”

All who knew the spiritual leader applauded his undaunted spirit. Despite his failing health and aging body, the selfless servant of the people, continued to give of his time and talents.

President of the Guyana Tri-State Alliance, Patricia Jordan-Langford called Pandit Ramlall a man of truth, integrity, “a great humanitarian, husband, father, a guru to many, and staunch patriot of Guyana.”

“I feel this loss deeply. Besides being my Guru he has been a friend through the years and I have benefited from his wisdom and truth. Guyana, the Diaspora and the world have gained from his wisdom and extraordinary journey through life, from being an orphan. He made sacrifices as a freedom Fighter for Guyana’s independence, later becoming a world spiritual leader.”

She added that he was an Icon, spiritual leader, teacher and one of the most respected pandits in New York and around the world. “It has been a great honor to call him friend and mentor for many years. He will be missed,” she said.

Pandit Ramlall leaves his loving family and a community of thousands to mourn his loss.

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