First international Holi conference in Trinidad

The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) will host its first international virtual Phagwa or Holi conference in Trinidad on March 13 and 14

Paras Ramoutar Feb 19, 2021
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The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) will host its first international virtual Phagwa or Holi conference in Trinidad on March 13 and 14. The NCIC is the principal organisation that holds all the major Hindu religious, cultural, spiritual, and social activities since its formation in 1964 here.

Sixty-five international scholars and researchers from India, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Suriname, Guyana, the United States, Jamaica and Trinidad, and Tobago will present their findings in 13 panels during the conference to be held at the NCIC Nagar headquarters at Chaguanas, according to Surujdeo Mangaroo, public relations officer.  Mangaroo said this is the first time that such an event is being hosted in any part of the world.

“While it has gained in popularity over the years, few efforts have been made to study this festival from an academic standpoint,” he added.

Mangaroo said the conference aims to bring together scholars and researchers to engage in global dialogue on the Phagwa festival and to create wider awareness about the festival.

Phagwa - or Holi as it is popularly called in India - has been an integral part of the lives of the diaspora. Apart from celebrations in India, this festival of colors is celebrated in areas where the Indian diaspora have settled, mainly North America, Europe, New Zealand, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, and the Caribbean. In Guyana, it is observed as a public holiday.

Phagwa, a Hindu festival that mostly falls in March, celebrates the end of winter and the onset of spring in India in the month of Phagun in the Hindu calendar.

The day is marked with fun and merriment as celebrants spray red liquid color (abir) on each other.

“For the Phagwa Festival, some conventional barriers are abandoned and songs like Hori, Dhrupad, Thumri, Kajri, Basant, Ulaaraa, and Chowtaal are sung as celebrants dance and rejoice at open-air venues. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, no such activities are likely to take place this year,” Mangaroo added

The conference will take place via Zoom from 8 am on both days. It is free and open for everyone - http://phagwa.ncictt.com.

(The author is an Indian-origin journalist based in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He can be contacted at paras_ramoutar@yahoo.com)