State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson thanks Albert Baldeo for delivering State Senate majority
NY Phagwah Mela draws hundreds

HUNDREDS of revelers turned out for the annual Phagwah Sammelan (cultural variety concert) on Saturday afternoon in Richmond Hill for six hours of non-stop entertainment that included traditional Holi songs. It was outstanding first class entertainment that was accompanied by clapping and cheering. The outdoor concert was held at the compound of the Maha Lakshmi Mandir on 123rd Street and 101 Ave. Although Guyanese dominated, the huge crowd and performers included many non-Guyanese, including other West Indians and Indians from South Asia, with standing room only and the crowd overflowing onto the sidewalks. People came from far and near and were in a very jubilant mood.

Colourful dry abrack and gulal and talc powder were smeared on the celebrants, many of whom were dressed in traditional Indian garb. Hot food and beverages were served at the back of the crowd in a make shift kitchen on the sidewalk as entertainers performed on stage in front. There were performances of musical bands, tassa drumming, singing, dancing, drama, chowtal gols, and skits.

The event was organized by the Phagwah Parade and Festival Committee headed by Dr. Tara Singh of Canal # 1 and Shrad Kublall of Mahaicony.  Several dozen temples and cultural organisations partook in the festivities presenting performances.  The festival started around 2:00 and went well past 8:00 P.M.

There was police presence to facilitate the celebration. The program was carried live on the Indo-Caribbean radio station. It was also filmed for TV showing.

There was a continuous stream of people going in and out of the temple compound. Many danced to the fast tempo music and daubed abrack on one another or sprinkled talc powder on each other. The tassa drumming also brought many to their feet.

The organizers catered free meals and beverages for the large gathering that included people of different ethnicities. The food was delicious. Some in the crowd were seen going for seconds. Some had take-away service.

Guyanese-American John Sampson, leader of the NY State Senate, was the Guest of Honor. He described Richmond Hill as his family and referred to the crowd as fellow Guyanese. He applauded the organizers for hosting the celebration and presented awards to Pandit Ramrattan and the children of the late Shri Prakash Gossai for their father’s contributions to Hinduism in NY. Sampson showered praise on Attorney Albert Baldeo who introduced Sampson saying Baldeo was responsible for the Democrats winning the majority in the State Senate making it possible for Sampson to become the Majority Leader.

Community newspapers carried special stories on the Holi festival. Businesses sponsored ads with Phagwah Greetings as is the custom in Guyana. The Indo-Caribbean Federation put out a special issue of its publication, Indo-Caribbean Review, on the Holi festival.  TV and radio programs also aired specials over the last couple weekends.

The Phagwah celebration concluded Sunday with the annual Phagwah Parade. A large gathering of over 20,000 was expected.  It was the 21st edition of the parade.




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