Holi/Phagwa in Trinidad and Guyana

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Holi/Phagwa in Trinidad and Guyana

Holi / Phagwa in Trinidad and Guyana
Holi is the festival of colors and while the holiday is mostly celebrated in India, many now celebrate worldwide. Also known as Phagwa, the event is celebrated in the Phalgun month, which usually falls in March or April as per the British calendar. The festival originated in Trinidad in the year 1845 when some sugarcane laborers from India began celebrating this festival. Since then, the festival is celebrated every year, and it has been almost 156 years that the festival has been observed in Trinidad and Guyana.

Holi has a lot of significance in Hindu mythology. As per the Hindu mythology, there was a king known as Hiranyakashipu who wanted Prahlad, a young prince to be killed. He along with his evil sister plotted the murder of Prahlad. His sister was blessed with divine powers and even fire could not touch her. Hiranyakashipu therefore asked his sister to take Prahlad in her lap and sit in the fire. However, Prahlad had immense faith in God and worshipped the Gods regularly. Such was his faith that Holika was burnt to death, but Prahlad escaped unhurt. Since then, one day prior to celebration of Holi, the people observe the burning of Holika, which is considered to be a symbol of purification.

Another aspect of this festival includes celebrating with colors. The people who observe this festival are often seen wearing white clothes. They apply organic colors on one another, different types of dyes and watercolors are also available that they apply on each other.

It is celebrated by both the elderly and children alike, while the kids most enjoy the festivities. The festival is also accompanied with folk songs and dances. People can be seen singing and dancing joyfully on Holi. There are also music instruments that are played during Holi, the most common ones include the Dholak and Manjeera. The Dholak is a hand drum, and the Manjeera is a percussive instrument. The sounds of these instruments are extremely soothing and add an infectious tone to the Holi festival. Apart from the colors, songs and musical instruments, various delicacies are also served to guests. The most popular drink of the Holi festival is known as Thandai.

As in India, Holi is also celebrated with great pomp and show in Trinidad and Guyana given the large Indian population on the twin islands. It is their national festival and is celebrated in grand style with lots of singing and dancing. Large quantities of colors, dyes and watercolors are sprayed on one another. They believe that any hard feelings are washed down along with the colors and that Holi water brings peace and prosperity while eliminating the evil inside the people. Holi encompasses peace and harmony. The folk song Chowtal is a high pitched song accompanied with two musical instruments. In Trinidad, they also play fast music and shake their legs and hips to it.