A part of the Hindu celebration of phagwah or holi has its roots in the belief that Krishna was born with a blue face due to being poisoned, so the tradition of throwing colored powder on each other to honor the holiday echoes the desperate attempts to change his color.
Those who attended the Phagwah Meal in Lincoln Park on March12, with temperatures verging on freezing, almost didn’t need to throw powder on each other to turn blue.
Students from the Mahatma Gandhi School in Jersey City and other performers and religious groups, however, kept warm by helping to welcome spring in a series of dance performances, prayers, and singing.
Sponsored by The United Hindu Federation of New Jersey, a religious organization headquartered on West Side Avenue in Jersey City, the event is an Indo-Caribbean tradition that marks the Hindu spring festival of Holi. Another meaning of throwing colorful powdered dyes is to symbolize the return of color after winter.
A citywide celebration
This is the 25th year the event has been held in Jersey City and historically brings out many people of all faiths, and political figures to embrace the multiple cultures.
The Holi festival’s cultural significance among various Hindu traditions on the Indian subcontinent is to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, on a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives.
Young and old showered each other with powder of various colors so that many were covered entirely with pink, green, yellow, blue and white.
The focus, according to members of the United Hindu Federation, is to bring people together, not just Hindus, but everyone.
Called “a festival of color,” Phagwah spreads color on the pale world of winter, although in the chill that day, many who attended were well aware of the late winter nor’easter bearing down on the region.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.