On Saturday, I attended an awesome, colorful spring festival at the Larry and Penny Thompson Park in Miami, Florida. The festivity was celebrated by Hindus predominantly from the Caribbean and Guyana who are now living in the United States. This annual event was also well attended by non-Hindus, residents from the multicultural South Florida Community, and guests from Orlando, Tampa, NY, and Canada. What is Phagwah?
Phagwah or Holi is a Hindu holiday that celebrates the coming of spring. The cold, blustery winter days are now over and everyone is overjoyed and thrilled to welcome the buds of springtime. It is also the beginning of the Hindu New Year recorded in the Vickram era commencing from the year 57 BC. According to modern count, Phagwah 2013 is calculated as 2070 in the Vedic calendar. Holi is celebrated on Purnima (full moon) in the month of Phalgun (March) The word “Phagwah” originated from the word “Phalgun” and was very familiar in the North Eastern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar from where Indian immigrants went to Guyana and the Caribbean.
This holiday is also called the festival of colors and is literally celebrated with colors! It is not uncommon to hear squeals of delight and uninhibited laughter as the young and old alike dash around throwing abeer (colored water) and colored powder (abrack) on each other. Hindus throughout the world observe and celebrate this holiday by attending special prayer services at Mandirs and participating in much merriment – singing and dancing with friends and relatives can go on for several days.
Holi is also known for the delectable foods that each family prepares to share with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Families, mostly the women take pride in spending long hours in the kitchen preparing sweets that are synonymous with Phagwah. Some of these sweets include- gojah, gululah, barifi and pera.
Delicious Sweet Treats!
In addition to Phagwah being the celebration of spring and the Hindu New Year, there is a popular legend in India that goes like this: King Hirnayakashipu believed he was God and wanted his young son Prahalad to worship him. Prahlad adamantly refused to worship his father so Hirnayakashipu and his evil sister Holika devised a wicked plan to punish Prahalad. This legend holds that Hirnayakashipu asked his sister Holika to enter a pyre (a blazing fire) while holding Prahalad on her lap. Hirnayakashipu was not concerned for the safety of his sister because she was protected by a boon that made her immune to fire. As the fire burned, everyone looking on was amazed to see that Holika was reduced to ashes and Prahlad remained unharmed. Prahlad’s goodness triumphed over Hirnayakashipu and Holika’s evil. To this day, some Hindus around the world light a huge bonfire the night before Phagwah to recreate this legend of Holika.
I participated actively in this spring festival and thoroughly enjoyed all the dancing, getting colored and partaking in the delicious sweets! Many thanks to YRaj Productions for granting me permission to use his photographs. The collage I created does not portray the true quality or the essence of his photographs. I am still new at all of this:-)
Some content was taken from: Omtemple.org