Festival of Colors

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Festival of Colors

The Phagwah Parade, also referred to as the "Festival of Colors" is held every March in Richmond Hill. The event celebrates the Hindu spring holiday known as "Holi", welcoming the Spring season and represents a celebration of good over evil. The presentation of various colors in the form of dye and powder on bodies and clothing is a key feature of the festivities. In many ways this spectrum of colors symbolizes the various cultures and traditions exhibited in Richmond Hill. The parade starts at Liberty Avenue and 133rd St. and ends with thousands of people gathering at Smokey Oval Park on 95th Avenue to enjoy singing, dancing, and powdering.

Indo-Caribbean pride was clear and present at this year's Phagwah Parade held on March 11th. Soirees and other ethnic clothing adorned parade participants on the floats. The variety of entities that sponsor these floats, from local businesses, to religious organizations and civic groups, reflects the active participation and commitment that community stakeholders hold in their neighborhood, people and history. The event drew an estimated 25,000 people, not withstanding the countless bodies hanging out of residential windows along the parade route.

Richmond Hill serves as the cultural hub of the Indo-Caribbean community in New York City. Indeed, the green, yellow, and red emblems found on the flag of Guyana and the red and black colors of Trinidad are commonplace on storefront facades and residential windows. There are three major retail districts (Liberty Ave, Jamaica Ave, 101 Ave) in Richmond Hill, each with distinct characteristics, yet all a reflection of the people and energy of the community. Beautiful Mandir buildings and Indian establishments line 101 ave., with the Guyanese and Trinidadian community well represented on Liberty Ave, along with a Latin and Caribbean presence on Jamaica Avenue.

As the population of this community grows its presence in Queens strengthens. In a county of many ethnic neighborhoods, Richmond Hill has developed into one of the most diverse communities as reflected by its people and businesses. Indeed, as locals celebrate the Festival of colors, much needs to be praised about the endless reflections being produced from the neighborhoods greatest assets: its people, its culture, its pride.

posted by Ricardi Calixte - Director of Neighborhood Development, 
Queens Economic Development Corporation