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Tobago Sai Centre celebrates Phagwa

Friday, March 14, 2014
Chowtal singing started the Phagwa celebrations held by the Sai Centre in Tobago last Saturday.

Phagwa celebrations kicked off in Tobago last Saturday when the Tobago Sai Centre staged its second annual Phagwa celebrations on the corner of the Store Bay Local Road.


Sai Centre spokesman Juanita Gopie, who is a primary schoolteacher in Scarborough, said she felt it was very important to expose Tobagonians, especially young ones, on all aspects of T&T’s rich culture. Gopie said most Tobagonians are not familiar with aspects of local Indian culture with the exception of certain foods. Her objective is to educate, bridge any cultural gaps and remove any misconceptions.


Celebrations started after 3 pm with chowtal singing, tassa and Indian dancing. Phagwa players used coloured powder instead of abeer. Some tourists even stopped their vehicles and participated in the event. 


Phagwa will be celebrated in Trinidad this weekend. 


Phagwa or Holi as it is sometimes called, is the Hindu Spring festival that is celebrated with the spraying of a coloured liquid called abeer and smearing coloured powder called gulal, on the faces and bodies of those participating. 


East Indian labourers who arrived in Trinidad in 1845 brought Phagwa and other elements of their culture but Phagwa took even longer to reach Tobago. Formalised celebrations were introduced in Tobago in the early 2000s by organisations like the Bon Accord Hindu Cultural Organisation, The Tobago Sai Centre and the Tobago Hindu Society.


Phagwa has no fixed date but usually takes place during March or April.


The roots of Phagwa lie in Hindu mythology that tells of Prahalad, son of the evil King Hiranyakashipu. The king wanted desperately to destroy the youth because he refused to worship the king and instead worshipped God.