After a most spectacular display of the last full moon of the winter the previous night, Rachel and I traveled to Richmond Hills, Queens to see the 22nd annual Phagwah Parade. Perhaps the prayers for a sun-filled day were answered as the morning chill subsided while marchers were preparing their floats and their costumes for the event. The police presence was notable as powder is not allowed on the parade route. Liberty Ave. was starting to become busier with the start of the parade soon approaching. Rachel and I had heard the best roti to have in the area was over at Singh’s Roti House so we ventured over. The place was packed with men watching the Cricket World Cup so we figured being served in time to catch the parade might be tough.We left and just a few doors down a table was set up outside with two women giving out free bags of treats. Rachel thought the Samosas were too spicy but enjoyed the Ladoo balls.
Every parade is different and has a life of its own and getting a better understanding of it is always better from some of the spectators. Sookya Lochan was visiting from Trinidad and helped to explain that Phagwah is their version of Carnival. A joyous celebration for all the Hindus across the world. Rachel was curious about the meaning of all the colors and Sookya said that we as people are all like a rainbow and that we all come from different cultures and traditions and it’s really how get along with each other that makes it work and that prayers for peace help. Shortly after Sookya’s words of wisdom, Liberty Ave. was becoming filled with all kinds of people waiting forthe first float to arrive.
From a distance, we saw a large banner approaching with the sponsors, The Federation of Hindu Mandirs & Arya Spiritual Center, slowly marching behind. Several floats followed them with joyous and spiritual songs being played from the tower of loudspeakers. The pace was more relaxed as each float stopped at every corner. It gave the spectators plenty of time to watch the depiction of Lord Vishnu and other traditional Hindu costumes. The music was lively and many spectators were dancing in the streets enjoying the celebration yelling Happy Holi. All the good feelings of brotherhood even caught the attention of a curious dog with his owner on a second floor apartment.
Drummers were playing rhythmic beats up and down Liberty Ave. and made their way to Smokey Oval Park where more festivities were planned and the real celebration of the festival of colors happened. As people greeted each other they tap each other with dyed powder or white talcum powder and say Happy Holi. All were respectful for those that didn’t want to get colored as I saw a spectator without a drop of powder on him. That was not the case with everyone else as the colors were flying all around in a festival of peace, brotherhood, and good will to all men and women.
People were dancing to the drummers beat in various sections while concerts were provided on the other side of the park. Rachel stayed out of Smokey Oval (not wanting to get her camera ruined with the powder) but she still got her face painted red by one of her subjects she was photographing. I couldn’t help experience the fun of being painted from head to toe in a rainbow of color.
For more pictures click on this blog’s photo links andCNN ireport link:
March 27th: Greek Independence Day Parade. 1:30PM, 5th Ave and 59th St.
April 1st: April Fool’s Parade. 12 noon, 59th and 5th to Washington Sq Pk where the King or Queens of Fools will be crowned. “Fooled you”–no such parade but maybe a good idea to start one.
April 9th: Tartan Day Parade. 2PM, 45th and 6th Ave. to 55th and 6th Ave.