Thirty-first annual Phagwah, Holi celebrated despite rain showers

Consul General of Guyana to NY, Barbara Atherly, seventh from left, front row, marching in the 31st Annual Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hill, Queens.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Vibrant colors of powder decorated the faces and clothing of residents, who celebrated the beginning of spring, and triumph of good over evil, last Sunday, at the 31st Annual Hindu festival of Holi, in memory of late Pandit Ramlall, founder of the festival in Richmond Hill, Queens.

Despite the rain that delayed the noon start, organizers gathered at Liberty and 133rd Street to pay tribute to Pandit Ramlall, who, Arya Spiritual Center member, Diana Ramsamooj, called a visionary and a man of wisdom whose legacy will live on.

“He stood for truth and honesty, development and spiritual growth,” said Ramsamooj, who lauded the Pandit for bringing the community together, to live and build together.”

“May we continue to celebrate his life and legacy with more cultural events that bring us together in celebration of light and love,” she urged.

Richard David, community leader of District 31, said Pandit Ramlall was someone who brought people and the community together, regardless of religion, race, and nationality. “We don’t have enough people who are bringing us together today,” said David, adding that the religious leader was a fixture in the parade and there was no greater way to honor him, “than to dedicate this parade in his memory.”

Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, one of the organizers, said it was a beautiful day to remember Pandit Ramlall, who, for the first time in the parade’s history, was not in attendance. “Happy Holi to everyone,” he said.

Consul General of Guyana to New York, Barbara Atherly, who joined the parade, wished the community Happy Holi saying, “It is my pleasure to take part in today’s festivities. The religious significance of Holi lies in the conquest of good over evil. It’s finally springtime and the colored water and powder used today is always symbolic of the unique floral beauty of spring.”

“It represents the vanishing of hatred, feelings of jealousy and enmity, replaced by a flourishing of togetherness within the community. As we celebrate Holi, let us renew our commitment to peace and harmony as the words of Guyana’s national pledge encourages.”

“To love my fellow citizens and to dedicate our energies towards the happiness and prosperity of Guyana. Let us celebrate Holi in the true spirit of friendship, joy, merriment and love,” she said.

Grand Marshall, Naro Balli, President of the Phagwah Parade of New York, Herman Singh, members; Romeo Hitlall, Naidoo Veerapen, Vedo Basdeo, the Federation of the Hindu Mandirs and The Arya Spiritual Center Inc., joined New York City Council members, Eric Ulrich, and Donovan Richards, to wish thousands who lined the streets and participated in throwing colored powder (Abir) on each other, a Happy Holi, Happy Phagwah, during the hours-long celebration, that also honored late Detective Brian P. Simonsen of the 102 Precinct, killed in the line of duty.

Mohamed Q. Amin, president of the Caribbean Equality Project, and members, the Shri Trimvrti Bhavan Mandir, Maha Shiva Durga Mandir, the NYPD Desi Society, the Guyanese American Law Enforcement Association, Laparkan Trading, and others attended the parade and motorcade that ended with a cultural presentation of music and dance at Smokey Oval Park.

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