Phagwa celebrations a sign of hope

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Rebecca Rampersad, two, smiles as she rubs abeer powder on her face during the El Dorado Village Council’s Phagwa celebration at the El Dorado recreation ground. – AYANNA KINSALE

BEING able to celebrate Phagwa, also known as Holi, beyond the confines of familial homes on Sunday was a sign of hope for those who participated.

After two years of restricted and in some cases no Phagwa celebrations, those in attendance at the El Dorado recreation Ground on Sunday saw it as a sign that covid19 will soon be a thing of the past.

At the ground, off Caura Road, mostly children were seen throwing abeer (coloured powder or liquid) on each other while masked and trying their best to maintain physical distancing.

Friends Sherisse Mahase, Rebecca Rampersad, Destiny Whittear and Shanice Mahase blow abeer powder from their hands. – AYANNA KINSALE

Curepe resident Natalie Suchit-Mahabir said it was great to see people out enjoying the festivities while adhering to the health protocols.

“It feels really good to come back out, not just for Phagwa but we are looking forward to Easter as well,” she said adding that she cancelled family plans to celebrate at home to be in El Dorado.

She said Phagwa also represented the change in seasons and will represent a change for the better for the country.

Cheryl Joseph, chair of the El Dorado village council, which organised the celebration, said many other communities decided not to celebrate this year and opted to do so at home with their families.

Asked how it felt to have public celebrations again, Joseph exclaimed: “Great! Oh my God!”

Those who were masked could not hide their smiles as their eyes revealed the joy to be doing something that seemed “normal.”

Children and adults revelled in sprinkling abeer on each other and on the Newsday crew.

Councillor for the area Prakash Barath said after two years it was “marvellous, wonderful and beautiful” to enjoy the celebrations.

“We are happy. Holi is a happy occasion. Covid19 has taken a toll on all of us and today there is some exuberance as the country lifts some restrictions. We are glad today in this difficult time. We are hoping this is a new era that we can exhale and tell our people better is going to come.”

St Augustine MP Khadija Ameen explained that even with a scaled-down version of the festivities, Sunday’s celebration was a sign of hope.

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal (fourth from left) joined constituents at the Mohess Road recreation ground in Penal to celebrate Phagwa on Sunday. – Marvin Hamilton

“For many this is a hope that covid19 is coming to an end, and the joys that we had when we shared Phagwa celebrations with each other will return.”

Suchit-Mahabir supports the idea of Phagwa being a national holiday on the strict condition that the guidelines be followed. She said it was not just about the throwing of the abeer, but the rituals of fasting, abstaining from alcohol, meat and other things, and the singing of traditional songs.

Mohan Sharma, who came to TT from India on business last month, also participated in the El Dorado celebration.

Nicholas Kanhai, local government representative for Barrackpore West, and other residents of Penal show off their powdered abeer at the Mohess Road recreation ground on Sunday. – Marvin Hamilton

Coming from Uttar Pradesh, 32-year-old Sharma said he was delighted to see Phagwa away from home.

“I was missing Holi and I was searching on Facebook for where to celebrate, because in India Holi and Divali are two big festivals and I did not want to miss these festivals here also. I searched and found this place and I am here.”

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