Pundit Gosein: Phagwa is for everybody!

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Lutchy Sonnylal, Debbie Narine and Capil Singh are covered in abeer, at Phagwa celebrations held by the National Phagwa Council of Trinidad and Tobago, Aranguez Savannah, on March 31. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

In what was the National Phagwa Council of Trinidad and Tobago’s 54th staging of Phagwa celebrations at the Aranguez Savannah, its president, Pundit Satyanan Gosein, says the colourful Hindu festival must be used to spread unity and togetherness throughout the country.

Hundreds of people of all ages gathered at the southern end of the Aranguez venue on March 31, and they splashed and painted each other with abeer in a kaleidoscope of colours with the use of their hands, pichakaree, water bottles, buckets and any other object they could find in their vicinity. The joy among the participants was complemented by live performances of classical Chowtaal music from varying bands.

While Gosein said the focus was not on the crowd turnout for 2024, with many families involved in Easter Sunday activities, he said he was happy to see the participation and camaraderie among the participants.

Gosein announced Aranguez Savannah as the mecca of the Phagwa festival and he said the celebrations should not be confined to Hindus only.

“This has been ongoing everywhere where Phagwa or Holi is where people come together to celebrate in a frolic and loving manner,” Gosein told Newsday.

“It’s a time where people put aside their differences, forgetting everything and coming together. It’s a time of unity in a special way. Hence, the National Phagwa Council doesn’t see it as an Indian celebration, Phagwa is a national celebration in TT.

“The National Phagwa Council has come a long, long way. This is the 54th year and Aranguez Savannah is the mecca, the grandstand of Phagwa celebrations in TT. I want to say happy Phagwa to the entire TT and may we unite together as one people, looking forward to development in our country of TT.”

There were cultural pieces from bands such as Agni Power Dance Group, Barataria Chowtaal Group, Caparo Chowtaal Group, Malick Mandir Phagwa Celebrations, Pierre Road Ramayan and Chowtaal Group and RG The Band, which featured artistes such as Kavita Maharajh, Amit Sagram and Neeshad Sultan. Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram was also in attendance.

Gosein, who also took the stage with the Barataria band, said the traditions of the indentured labourers needed to be kept alive with the Phagwa celebrations.

“The origins of Phagwa came from India. In India, there is a spring festival. In Trinidad, there is no spring here. But because of the tradition, culture and rich heritage we have, we maintain this cultural respect.

“Long time ago, this type of celebration, when the farmers planted their crops they would share it in the communities and this was our spring. It’s a time where the village, the community and the country come together.”

With March 31 marking the end of the week-long Phagwa celebrations, Gosein is already looking forward to seeing different communities descend in Aranguez and other areas in the country to spread joy and colourful paint and powder with their pichakaree and other instruments.