By PARAS RAMOUTAR
Port-of-Spain: The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) will host its first international virtual Phagwa conference in Trinidad on the weekend of March 13 and 14.
The NCIC is the epicentre of 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 US, 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 a wider awareness of the festival.
Phagwa or Holi as it is called in urban India, has been an integral part of the lives of the diaspora of Indians all over the world where they have settled. Apart from national celebrations in India, it is celebrated annually in most areas of the Indian diaspora in North America, Europe, New Zealand, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, and the Caribbean. In Guyana, it is observed as a public holiday.
Phagwa is a Hindu festival observed in March, celebrating the end of winter and the onset of spring in India in the month of Phagun in the Hindu calendar.
The day is marked by fun and merriment as celebrants spray a red liquid dye (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 covid19 pandemic, no such activities are likely to take place this year, “ Mangaroo added
Conference chairman Dr Primnath Gooptar can be contacted at 868- 470-0133 or Sarika Boodoo at 868-769-4142 for further information.
It will take place via Zoom from 8 am on both days. It is free and open to anyone to attend by signing in with the following link – http://phagwa.ncictt.com.