Festival of Colors Brightens Queens

27 Mar

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After a disappointing cancelling of last years parade, one of the largest celebration of Phaghwa or Holi in the nation took place in Richmond Hills, Queens with much anticipation and happiness. Richmond Hills is home to one of the largest Caribbean Hindu populations in the city. Keeping true to the ancient tradition of Holi in India, colored powder is rubbed on on from one person to another until the person looks like a  beautiful rainbow. The festival in Queens and India coincide with the last full moon of winter. It’s a way of chasing away the winter grays and a prelude of all the upcoming colors of spring and summer.

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While all the different mandirs and groups in floats are getting themselves prepped for the big parade, the lead group and sponsors of the parade say a prayer for success and a dancer emulates a Hindu deity praying for good fortune. All the fun started when the NYC Marching Band announced the start of the parade on Liberty Ave. and 133rd St. The parade sponsors carried large flags from India, Guayana, and Trinidad and a large parade banner. The parade has always been a slow moving parade, giving revelers a chance to receive a gentle tap of colored powder on the face or arms and shoulders. Some floats blared traditional Hindu music while others played more modern tunes with traditional themes. A few drumming bands made their down the parade route. One group had a young girl that kept up the pace with the group. She was pretty good. The group from Singh’s Roti Shop and Sports bar had one of the best floats and drumming group that jammed with lots of energy. The parade turns on 125th St and into Smokey Park where there is a stage for more performers and a display of culture. And of course everyone shares the colored powder and folks walk out looking like rainbow people. No matter what the culture race or heritage, a fun time can be had by all. Of course, one of the best things about neighborhood parades is the great food. Singh’s Roti shop was a definite stop. I was lucky enough to find a bakery selling some of the best samosas I’ve ever had. Happy Holi all.

 

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