Tag Archives: Holi

Holi Festival Of Colors Takes Over Richmond Hills

16 Apr
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Praying For Success 

     In the first leg of a parade weekend, the warmer weather brought out thousands of revelers to Liberty Ave. in Richmond Hills, Queens to celebrate the ancient festival of Holi. Previous celebrations had coincided more with the actual dates in mid-March but colder weather in previous years left the parade with few attendees. It was a good decision by parade organizers to move it forward to mid-April where the chances of better weather would allow for a better experience. Richmond Hills, Queens is home to the largest population of Caribbean-Hindi descent.  Holi has been celebrated in India and Nepal for over a thousand years and is a National holiday. It is a festival of the arrival of spring. It’s a time to get rid of the winter blahs and anticipate the blast of colors coming soon. It’s also a celebration of good vs. evil as a story of Vishnu is remembered.

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Getting the Parade Started

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Feel The Rainbow

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Dancer Getting the Crowd Worked Up

     As usual, there is a ceremonial dance prior to the start of the parade, wishing for a successful event. Then the NYPD Marching Band kicked things off letting parade revelers know things were about to get started. They were soon followed by a group of drummers to get the crowd worked up in front of Singh’s restaurant for a day of celebration. A line of colorful floats from the various mandirs of the area keeps the flow of the parade moving down the parade route to Smokey Park where the festival continued. A stage was set up for performers and the park was open for friends and family to spread the color all around.  It’s a fun parade that has been getting more attention from outside the community. The parade is a good addition to your bucket list as long as you don’t mind turning into a rainbow of colors by perfect strangers. Happy Holi.

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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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Spring Arrives in a Rainbow of Colors

23 Mar

   

     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.

  

 Happy Holi.

For more pictures click on this blog’s photo links andCNN ireport link:

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-576661

Next Parades:

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.

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