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The season of PhagwaVACANCIESRadiographer

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The celebration of the Hindu festival of Phagwa or Holi is a combination of the arrival of the season of Spring and at the same time a celebration of the victory of good over the evil forces that surround us. It is celebrated the day after the full moon in the month of March.

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha and the broader Hindu community will begin the Phagwa celebration on March 2 of this year and it will run for a period of approximately seven days. But even before the actual celebration dates, Phagwa activities begins today, Saturday, February 24, with an all-day competition in the singing of songs related to this ancient festival.

This prelude to the general Phagwa celebrations will be taking place at the Lakshmi College Auditorium in St Augustine with 48 primary schools participating in competition, while five Hindu colleges (Lakshmi, Vishnu, Saraswati, Parvati and Shiva), will make guest appearances.

The next event in this year’s festival takes place on March 1, at various venues across Trinidad. This event is known as “Burning of Holika.” Days before the event, devotees and participants start gathering wood and other combustible materials for a bonfire that will herald the destruction of evil and the establishment of righteous behaviour. Devotees then use the ashes from the bonfire to smear their bodies after which the coloured liquid known as “Abeer” is sprinkled on each other.

The ritual of the bonfire also symbolises the victory of good over evil and in countries like India, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other places where Indian indentured labourers were transported and eventually settled, the celebration is observed with participants singing and dancing in the villages and city streets while sprinkling Abeer on each other. Abeer is a washable liquid and non-toxic, and is natural derived colours from turmeric, neem and kum kum.

In Trinidad the Hindu devotees throw colours on each other using ordinary plastic bottles or specially made spraying instruments and engage in friendly “water fight.” By evening the various venues would have been converted into a canvas of colours.

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Education Board of Management has set aside a special day in the 2018 Hindu calendar for the celebration of Children’s Phagwa at our various schools. We use the discipline of the school and the assistance of parents and teachers to guide our children into acceptable behaviour patterns. The day set aside for Children’s Phagwa is Friday, March 2.

Participants have been issued guidelines about behaviour, and principals and teachers will be on hand to ensure adherence to the rules of participation. The Maha Sabha Education Board has ruled that the type of Phagwa songs and their styles be in the traditional Chowtal, Jhumar, Dharmar, Jatee, Vaiswaara, Leej and Hori. And only two musical instruments are allowed–the dholak (hand drum) and the jhaal (small brass cymbal).

The general Phagwa celebrations will take place at various venues across the country on Sunday, March 4. Established Maha Sabha venues will be at Knowles Street, Curepe, Tarouba, Lower Mc Bean, Munroe Road Temple, Couva Recreation Grounds, Parvati Girls Hindu College, Debe, Solidad in Claxton Bay, Avidesh Samaroo Park, Endeavour Village, Monkey Town Temple, Barrackpore, Felicity Recreation Grounds and at El Socorro South Temple.

Numerous articles appear on the Internet regarding the celebration of Phagwa or Holi in Trinidad and Tobago and other Indian diaspora across the world. The piece on Trinidad and Tobago reads in part: “Holi is celebrated with a lot of pomp and éclat in the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago which has a large Indian diaspora. Here, it is largely known as Phagwa. Holi is said to have come to Trinidad around 1845 by the Hindus who migrated from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as contractual labourers on the sugarcane field. Since then it is being celebrated every year with great enthusiasm.

“In the early days, the festival was observed very modestly because of the many constraints that the Hindus had to deal with. But, today it is celebrated at a national level, in a grand style throughout Trinidad.

Just as their Indian counterparts, Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago celebrate the festival with colours, songs, music and dance.”


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