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By Rob MacKay

Get ready for colorful costumes, colorful floats, colorful personalities, and colorful talcum powder.

The all-afternoon (and often all-night) Phagwah Parade will fill the streets of Richmond Hill (at Queens, New York) with rainbows of joy on Saturday, March 26. If the weather is good, at least 100,000 revelers will celebrate this 28th annual Indo-Caribbean spring ritual by singing, dancing, riding floats, and throwing red-dyed powder, perfume, and water at each other in a cheerful, good-natured manner.

The formation will begin at around 10 am in the vicinity of Liberty Avenue and 133rd Street with at least 20 floats full of sari-clad women and large speakers blaring tropical music. Many more people will line the streets to watch the floats pass by. In past years there have been delays, but the schedule calls for a noon start with participants proceeding westward down Liberty Avenue, heading to 125th Street, where they will take a right turn and head north to Smokey Oval Park (aka Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park) at 92nd Avenue.

At the public space, live music, chanting, and traditional cultural performances will take place until it gets dark, maybe even a bit later. Foodies can expect plenty of curry, roti, and maybe even some sorrel (a cold drink made mostly from red hibiscus flowers). If you’re looking for a break from the action, may we suggest a Guyanese Chinese dinner at the nearby Nest Restaurant.

Phagwah (pronounced Pah-gwah) is also known as “Holi,” “The Festival of Colors,” and “The Festival of Shared Love.” It occurs every spring, after the first full moon on the Hindu calendar, as a de facto new year’s party. It’s also a commemoration of the triumph of good over evil.

Its origins are in northern India and Nepal, where it is also popular among the non-Hindu populations. The word “Holi” probably derives from “Holika,” who is the evil sister of a demon king. According to Hindu folklore, Holika tricked her nephew, Prahlada, into sitting on a burning pyre with her while she was wearing a protective cloak. But as the flames grew, they created a wind that blew the cloak from Holika and onto Prahlada. The fire then killed Holika, while Prahlada survived. The next day, townspeople spread ashes from the pyre on their foreheads, a practice that probably evolved into today’s distribution of colored powder and liquids. (Some people say they use colored powder to chase away the winter grays.)

The celebration of Phagwah came to Richmond Hill via the Caribbean. Many Indians immigrated to Guyana and Trinidad in the 18th century as indentured servants after the British West Indies abolished slavery of Africans and their descendants in 1838. Most of these new immigrants worked on sugar cane plantations, the backbone of the Caribbean economy at the time.

About 30 years ago, a large number of Caribbean-born descendants of these Indians began settling in Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. Currently, Richmond Hill hosts the largest Phagwah Parade in North American. The first one took place in 1988 with about 40 attendees. It has steadily grown since then to become a major religious, commercial, and cultural event, attracting Hindus and tourists from around the world, including India.

However, there was a break in the action last year. Due to a contentious schism among organizers and a flurry of court mediation, the event was cancelled. Some attributed the problems to natural growing pains as members of the Hindu Parades & Festivals Committee sparred with The Federation of Hindu Mandirs Inc. and other community leaders over control. Others blamed egos, power, and politics. (Ethnic parades, such as the Dominican and Puerto Ricans ones in Manhattan, have experienced similar issues.) This is all in the past now, and it’s parade time.

Getting there:
To get to Liberty Avenue and 133 St., take the E train to Jamaica/Van Wyck and transfer to the Q24 bus, exit at Atlantic Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway.

Rob MacKay is the director of public relations for the Queens Economic Development Corporation. Source:


Photo by Pixabay

Upcoming medical colleges in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages

The new medical colleges being opened in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages.

The state government has issued an order naming four district hospitals that are being converted into medical colleges.

These district hospitals are in Bijnor, Fatehpur, Chandauli, and Siddharth Nagar.

The Bijnor medical college has been named after Mahatma Vidur, a philosopher during the Mahabharata era and uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas.

The Chandauli medical college has been named after Baba Keenaram, said to be the founder of the Aghori sect.

The Siddharth Nagar district hospital will be called Madhav Prasad Tripathi Medical College after the BJP politician from the region. Tripathi, popularly known as Madhav Babu, was also the first Uttar Pradesh BJP chief. He was elected MP from Domariyaganj in 1977, besides being two times Jan Sangh MLA and also a member of the UP legislative council.

The Fatehpur hospital has been named Amar Shaheed Jodha Singh Ataiya Thakur Dariyawn Singh Medical College, after the freedom fighter of 1857.

It is said that he was among the first to use Guerrilla warfare against the British, as taught by freedom fighter Tatya Tope.

Meanwhile, according to official sources, the medical college in Deoria will be named after Maharishi Devraha Baba and the medical college of Ghazipur in the name of Maharishi Vishwamitra.

The medical college of Mirzapur will be in the name of Maa Vindhyavasini, the medical college of Pratapgarh in the name of Dr. Sonelal Patel and the medical college of Etah will be named after Veerangana Avantibai Lodhi. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Medical Colleges, Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, India, Politics

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Indian cricket team on the ground

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has picked India as the favourite to win the ongoing ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Oman and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Inzamam feels that the Virat Kohli-led India have a greater chance of winning the trophy as the conditions in the Gulf nations are similar to the subcontinent, which makes India the most dangerous side in the event, according to Inzamam.

"In any tournament, it cannot be said for certain that a particular team will win' It's all about how much chance do they have of winning it. In my opinion, India have a greater chance than any other team of winning this tournament, especially in conditions like these. They have experienced T20 players as well," said Inzamam on his YouTube channel.

He said more than the Indian batters, the bowlers have a lot of experience of playing in the conditions. The Indian Premier League (IPL) was played recently in UAE and most of the Indian bowlers did well in that leg.

Inzy heaped praises on the Men in Blue for the confident manner in which they chased the target against Australia on a challenging track without needing Kohli's batting prowess.

"India played their warm-up fixture against Australia rather comfortably. On subcontinent pitches like these, India are the most dangerous T20 side in the world. Even today, if we see the 155 runs they chased down, they did not even need Virat Kohli to do so," he added.

Though he did not pick any favourite, Inzamam termed the India-Pakistan clash in the Super 12 on October 24 as the 'final before the final' and said the team winning it will go into the remaining matches high on morale,

"The match between India and Pakistan in the Super 12s is the final before the final. No match will be hyped as much as this one. Even in the 2017 Champions Trophy, India and Pakistan started and finished the tournament by facing each other, and both the matches felt like finals. The team winning that match will have their morale boosted and will also have 50 percent of pressure released from them," Inzamam added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Pakistan, Sports, ICC T20 World Cup, UAE.

Photo by Diana Akhmetianova on Unsplash

Skin problems like itchiness, dryness and flakiness can occur anytime if you're not moisturising your body enough.

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man in white crew neck t-shirt Moisturising the body in the morning sets your skin up to face countless irritants and environmental factors during the day. | Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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