NCIC International Phagwa Conference 2021

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The National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) will host the First International Virtual Phagwa Conference in Trinidad on Saturday 13th to Sunday 14th March 2021 from 8.00 am (Trinidad me; 12.00 GMT) each day, at our headquarters, NCIC Nagar, 28-38 Narsaloo Ramaya Marg, Endeavour Road,Chaguanas.

This is the first time that such a Phagwa conference is being hosted in any part of the world.

We invite you to join us via the Zoom Link Below as we present scholars from India, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, USA, Guyana, Suriname ,Jamaica , Trinidad and Tobago and other countries who will present papers and discuss issues relating to Phagwa (Holi).

Please see attached Program and flyer for more detailed information on the conference.

Kindly share with others in your network.

Thank you
Primnath Gooptar (Ph.D.)
PHAGWA CONFERENCE ZOOM LINK : http://phagwa.ncictt.com/
Kindly double click on the link above.

2021 phagwah agenda
2021 phagwah agenda

FIRST INTERNATIONAL PHAGWA CONFERENCE 2021
FIPC2021
Phagwa in the Global Village: Traditions, Innovations and Future Developments
March 13 – 14, 2021

A PROJECT OF
THE HERITAGE CENTRE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF INDIAN CULTURE
Contact us :
NCIC Nagar, 28-38 Narsaloo Ramaya Marg, Endeavour, Chaguanas 502128, Trinidad, W.I.
Website: http://www.ncictt.com
Tel/Fax: (868) 671-6242 / 789-9101
Conference Email: phagwafipc2021@gmail.com; pgoopta@hotmail.com;
CONFERENCE ZOOM LINK :
http://phagwa.ncictt.com/

First International Phagwa Conference 2021
Welcome
Deokinanan Sharma
President
National Council of Indian Culture of Trinidad and Tobago ( NCIC)
FIRST INTERNATIONAL PHAGWA CONFERENCE 2021
The National Council of Indian Culture(NCIC) of Trinidad and Tobago extends a very warm welcome to all who joined the NCIC in its First International Phagwa Conference 2021.

Our very special welcome goes to the Presenters, who responded to our invitation speedily, positively, and in numbers that we had not expected.
It shows the great interest there is worldwide in the culture of the Indian Diaspora and in researching, documenting, preserving and promoting this culture for the benefit of the current and coming generations.
I do not believe that any nation has as many festivals, religious and otherwise, as India. A large number of these festivals go back to very ancient times and are still prevalent today.
It is therefore very laudable and praiseworthy that our ancestors, transported to new lands thousands of miles away from their homeland never
to return, were able to remember their festivals and actively practice them.
They were able to introduce these festivals, harboured in their memories, to their new homes making whatever changes were necessary for their new environment. These festivals took root and are today firmly established in their countries of domicile, contributing to the multicultural nature of the diaspora countries.
Phagwa or Holi is one such festival. In the case of my own country Trinidad and Tobago, Phagwa is an annual fixture in the country’s cultural calendar, fully supported by our religious and cultural organizations and by the government.
It was not an easy road. We did encounter some serious problems when out of sheer ignorance, Phagwa was being dubbed as Indian Carnival, ignoring the origins and reason d’etre of the festival.

PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

• • •
Strong objections were raised by our religious organizations and other cultural groups. The persuasions prevailed, and the festival, thankfully, is no longer referred to as such. The festival’s original flavour remains.
This conference, the first of its kind, has very noble objectives and, from the responses received, bodes well for the future. It points researchers and scholars to other directions of the Diaspora which have hitherto not been explored.
As President of the NCIC, I wish to acknowledge the efficient work of the Conference Chair Dr. Primnath Gooptar and members of his committee in bringing to fruition this First International Phagwa Conference.
I also extend my deep appreciation to the NCIC Heritage Centre, its Chairman, Senator Deoroop Teemal, and the committee for efficiently guiding and taking an active interest in the organization of the conference.
Best wishes for a very successful event. I thank you all.

Bio Note
Deokinanan Sharma is the current President of the National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) of Trinidad and Tobago. He is a long retired Civil Engineer who has given lifelong service towards the propagation of Indian Culture in his country of birth Trinidad and Tobago. He joined the NCIC in 1970 and fifty 50 years later he remains an active member of the organisation, becoming its President in the year 2000, a post which he still holds. For his tireless and voluntary service to the preservation of Indian culture he has on many occasions been nationally recognised .including , amongst others :
First International Phagwa Conference 2021

The Hummingbird Medal Gold by the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago during its Independence Day celebrations.
Honoured by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago on the occasion of the the 174th Indian Arrival Day celebrations.
Admitted to the Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) by the University of the West Indies in 2012.
Despite his advanced age Deokinanan Sharma continues to serve Indian Culture , brought to Trinidad and Tobago by our indentured forefathers
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
Messages
MESSAGE FROM DEOROOP TEEMAL
Chairman, National Council of Indian Culture (NCIC) Heritage Centre
On behalf of the NCIC Heritage Centre, it is my privilege to extend a warm welcome to all our presenters and delegates to our First International Phagwa Conference which is a virtual conference with the theme Phagwa in the Global Village: Traditions, Innovations and Future Developments. In addition to its widespread celebration in Bharat, this festival has found itself in the cultural and religious landscape in the Indian Diaspora and holds a very special place in the Girmitiya countries. We are very encouraged by the excited response to this conference by all and note with pleasure the many papers that will be presented. I trust that the interaction from scholars and activists from around the
world over the two days of the conference, will provide us with unique and useful information about the festival as well as identify key factors that contributed to the sustenance of the celebration within the many generations.
We are indeed honoured to have worked in collaboration with SWAHA International and the Hindu Prachaar Kendra to host this conference. Their inputs and contribution have proved to be most valuable and we look forward to future collaborative efforts.
I am particularly happy about the inclusion of the proposed round table sessions since they will broaden the participation by our practitioners and activists, in addition to providing a forum for communities who engage in the festival, to share their experiences. Inclusion of a dedicated forum for our youth will be provided through one of these round table sessions – Youth Perspectives for Phagwa in the Diaspora.
This conference would not be possible without the unhesitating support of the NCIC Board of Directors headed by our dedicated president Dr. Deokinanan Sharma. I would particularly like to take this opportunity to thank all members of the Conference Organizing Committee headed by Dr. Primnath Gooptar and fully supported by Gita Vahini (Hindu Prachaar Kendra), Pandit Jaidath Maharaj (SWAHA International), Dr. Deokinanan Sharma, Dr. Vijay Maharaj, Professor Brensley Samaroo, Amrica Seepersad-Reemaul, Surujdeo Mangaroo, Shawn Ramjit and Sarika Boodoo. Without their selfless, dedicated and tireless work, this conference would not be possible.
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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Chairman’s Remarks
Thank you
First International Phagwa Conference 2021
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this first-ever International Phagwa Conference hosted virtually by the National Council of Indian Culture of Trinidad and Tobago. This is a two-day conference being held on the 13th–14th March 2021.
This conference has generated an overwhelming response from participants from India and several Indian Diaspora countries such as Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana, Surinam, Jamaica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and other countries. I thank all participants for their very valuable
suggestions, contributions, timely responses to requests for information and general support for this very prestigious conference. Without your support, this conference would not be the success that it is turning out to be.
During the two-day conference, more than 65 participants will present papers and discuss various aspects of the Phagwa or Holi Festival within the theme: Phagwa (Holi) in the Global Village: Traditions, Innovations and Future Developments. They are thirteen panels, three of which will be roundtable discussions. I urge all participants, viewers and presenters, to actively participate in the proceedings during the question and answer period.
I thank the NCIC for sponsoring this very innovative conference and for allowing me the opportunity to chair the organizing committee for this event. I also thank all the organizing committee members and the NCIC IT support team for their unstinting support in making this event a success.
Primnath Gooptar (Ph.D.) Conference Chair
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
Conference Planning Committee
Dr.Primnath Gooptar, (Chair) Deoroop Teemal
Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh; (UWI) Professor Brinsley Samaroo Surujdeo Mangaroo
Geeta Ramsingh – Vahini; (Hindu Prachar Kendra) Dr. Deokinanan Sharma
Satyanan Gosine (National Phagwa Council)
Pt. Jaidath Maharaj (Swaha)
Dr. Sherry Ann Singh (UWI) Amrica Seepersad-Reemaul Shawn Ramjit
Dr.V.Vijay Maharaj (UWI)
Appreciation
The Conference Committee thanks Dr.V.Vijay Maharaj for her assistance in producing this Conference Booklet.
Special thanks are also due to Shawn Ramjit and his IT Team for their invaluable work in organizing the technical aspects of the conference.
The committee thanks everyone who has assisted in one way or the other in bringing this conference to fruition.
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
Daily Schedule of Activities
Kindly note that the times for the panels are noted in local (Trinidad) time and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Saturday 13th March 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Opening Ceremony
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
12:00 – 12:30 HRS GMT
Deoroop Teemal
Chairman, NCIC Heritage Centre
Deokinanan Sharma
President, NCIC
Primanth Gooptar
Conference Chair
PANEL 1
Phagwa: Historical Perspectives
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
12:30 – 14:00 HRS GMT
Chair: Brinsley Samaroo:
Introduction of presenters by chairman
Professor Emeritis UWI Trinidad
Sanobar Haider: Phagwa and Awadh
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Maharaja Bijli Pasi Government PG College
Lucknow
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Gargi Bhattacharya:
Vasantotsav (Spring Festival) in Bengali Culture: Celebration and Philosophy
Assistant Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Pali & Prakrit, Visva, Bharati (A Central University), Santiniketan
West Bengal, India
Primnath Gooptar:
The revival of the Phagwa Festival in Trinidad : The roles of the Hindu Jawaan Sangh and the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha
University of the West Indies/NCIC
Trinidad
Satish Prakash:
Phagwah and its Observance
New York City and Guyana
Keshwar Ramkissoon: Legends of Holi
Guyana
Question and Answer Session
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
PANEL 2
Developing trends in the Phagwa Festival in India and the Indian Diaspora
10:05 p.m. – 11:20 p.m.
14:05 – 15:20 HRS GMT
Chair: Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee
Introduction of presenters by chairman
Mauritius
Nisha Ramracha:
The Cultural Appropriation, Secularization, Sacrilege, Desecration and Desacralisation of Phagwa (Holi)
Classical Archaeologist
New York City
Neha Singh:
Re-awakening of Indian Diaspora’s Cultural Heritage: Understanding Phagwa as Carnivalesque Setting
Senior Academic Officer, IL & FS Education and Technology
Noida, India
Jaidath Maharaj:
Topic: Non-traditional presentations and celebrations of the festival using technology
SWAHA Inc. Trinidad
Ranjana Krishna:
Rethinking Phagwa in Classical Traditions and Modern Times
(A study with special reference to Hindustani Literature in Awadh region)
Associate Professor of English Avadh Girls’ P.G. College, University of Lucknow, UP
India
Question and Answer Session
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
PANEL 3
Developing trends in the Phagwa Festival in India and the Indian Diaspora
11:25 p.m. – 12:40 p.m.
15:25 – 16:40 HRS GMT
Chair: Ranjana Krishna:
Introduction of presenters by chairman
India
Doolarchan Hanoomansingh:
Phagwa in Trinidad and The Indo- Trinidadian middle-class
ICDN Trinidad
Pawan K. Upadhyaya:
Similarities of Holi in Guyana and India
Journalist India
Vishnu Bisram
Introduction and Evolution of Phagwah Celebrations in Guyana
U.S.A.
Ariti Jankie:
The Importance of preserving the PHAGWA tradition.
Trinidad
Question and Answer Session
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ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
PANEL 4
Portrayal of Phagwa in the literature, film, art, media and other fora
12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
16:45 – 18:00 HRS GMT
Chair: Avitesh Deepak Kumar
Introduction of presenters by chairman
Fiji
Nirvana Persad:
Phagwa and East Indian Identity in the West Indies
Sant Nagar Hindu Temple
Sangre Grande Phagwa Committe
Amita Esther David:
Keeping Phagwa alive in a cosmopolitan world
Associate Professor, Department of History, Isabella Thoburn College
Lucknow
Ishita Sen:
Bhang as a ‘gateway’ to study the ‘carnival’ of Phagwa
Sub-editor for Benefactory Ventures’ Volv Media
Kolkata, India
Neha Tripathi:
Myriads of Cultural Cosmos: A Brief overview of Similarities between Chinese New Year and Phagwah Festival
Research Scholar University of Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
Question and Answer Session
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
PANEL 5
Portrayal of Phagwa in the literature, film, art, media and other for a
2:05 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.
18:05 – 19:20 HRS GMT
Chair: Deoroop Teemal:
Introduction of presenters by chairman
Trinidad
Shruti Srivastava:
Representation of `Phagwa in Indian Literature
Sr. Assistant Professor Department of English D. A-V. College
Kanpur
Kumar Mahabir:
Is Shakespeare’s Macbeth based on a Phagwa legend?
Indo-Caribbean Cultural Centre Co. Ltd (ICC)
Trinidad
Megha Choudhary:
Fagwa Through Art and Culture of Rajasthan
Research scholar in Department of English from Mohanlal Sukhadia University
Udaipur.
Nutan Ragoobir:
An analysis of the portrayal of Phagwa as seen in various forms of literature, festivals and film.
Trinidad
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Question and Answer Session
KAL, AAJ AUR KAL (Yesterday, today and Tomorrow)
Youth Perspectives for Phagwa in the Diaspora
Chair: Visham Bhimull
Introduction of presenters by chairman
Trinidad
PANEL 6
Youth Roundtable
3:25 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
19:25 – 21:00 HRS GMT
Aayushee Garg Anjali Tiwari Roudraksh Jankee Praem Rambharak Sejal Bhojwani Daveanan Ramsaran Shiva Daniel
India
India
Mauritius
Guyana
Suriname
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago
Nisha Ramracha
U.S.A.
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
FILM SESSION
5:00 p.m.
21:05 HRS GMT
Chair: Jaidath Maharaj: Introduction of films
Trinidad
Maggie Griffith Williams: Pichakaree: The voice of a people
Northeastern University,
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Referred by Anjali Singh (taken from YouTube)
Lathmar Holi Festival: Novel Tradition of Barsana
Holi is the Festival of Colours. In Barsana and Nandagaon, people celebrate a variation called ‘Lathmar Holi’, which means ‘Holi in which people hit with sticks’.
During the festival, women of Barsana, the birth place of Hindu Goddess Radha, beat the men from Nandagaon, the hometown of Hindu God Krishna.
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
Sunday 14th March 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
KAL AAJ AUR KAL
Phagwa in the different states in India
Chair: Archana Tewari: Introduction of presenters by chair
India
PANEL 7
India Roundtable
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
12:00 – 13:30 HRS GMT
Amba Pande Ranjana Krishna Amita Esther David Sanobar Haider Shruti Srivastava Gargi Bhattacharya Gargi Talapatra Kiran S N
Ujjwal Rabidas Ghan Shyam
Anjali Singh
Sneha Sarkar
New Delhi Uttar Pradesh
Bengal
Karnataka Bihar Banaras Rajasthan Kanpur
Question and Answer Session
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
PANEL 8
Developing trends in the Phagwa Festival in India and the Indian Diaspora.
9:35 p.m. – 11:05a.m.
13:35 – 15:05 HRS GMT
Chair: Tara Singh:
Introduction of presenters by chair
Guyana/U.S.A.
Ranjana Kumari:
The Phagwa Festival of Indian Diaspora In Trinidad: The Changing Contour
Ph.D. Scholar CCUS & LAS School of International Studies JNU
New Delhi
Ishani Mukherjee
&
Maggie Griffith Williams:
“Bura na mano, Holi hai!”: Gender, cultural space, and cultural performance during Holi in India and Trinidad
University of Illinois at Chicago
&
Northeastern University, Massachusetts
U.S.A.
Boston,
Barnali Pain:
Palash Utsav: the Festival of Affirmation
Associate Professor in the Department of English, S.A Jaipuria College
Kolkata
Archana Tewari:
Phagwa In North India in the Decade of the 70s and 80s
Head of Dept., Lucknow University, U. P.
India
Shyam Murli Manohar Pandey &
Aparna Tripathi:
M.Phil. in Diaspora Studies at Centre for Diaspora Studies in Central University of Gujarat
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Phagwa: A Connecting Thread between India and Indian Diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago
&
PhD Research Scholar at the Centre for Diaspora Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
Question and Answer Session
PANEL 9
Phagwa as a Community Festival
11:10 a.m. – 12:55 p.m.
15:10 – 16:55 HRS GMT
Chair: Narinder Mukhamsingh: Introduction of presenters by chair
Suriname
Tara Singh:
Holi Sammelan Celebration in New York
New York
Washni Warsha Kumar,
Parvin Lata
&
Gyaneshwar Rao:
Phagwa as a Community Festival
The University of Fiji, Saweni Campus, Lautoka
Fiji Islands
Marcus Kissoon:
Queer Participation and Inclusion In The Annual Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hill, Queens New York: Marcus Kissoon in conversation with
University of the West Indies
Trinidad
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Mohamed Q. Aminm and Sundari The Indian Goddess.
Primnath Gooptar:
The Phagwa Festival as a community event in Sangre Grande
University of the West Indies / NCIC
Trinidad
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee:
Phagwa as a community festival
Researcher / Oral historian Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation
Avitesh Deepak Kumar, Manpreet Kaur
&
Kamala Lakshmi Naicker:
Phagwa as an All-Inclusive Festival in Fiji
The University of Fiji, Saweni Campus, Lautoka
Fiji Islands
Question and Answer Session
PANEL 10
The Romanticization of the Phagwa Festival in Indian movies
1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Chair: Sherry Ann Singh: Introduction of presenters by chair
Trinidad
Ramachandra Joshi:
Pointing Pitchkari and a Pinch of Colour: Romanticizing Phagwa in Bollywood songs
Assistant Professor of English Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Govt. College, Silvassa, U. T. Dadra Nagar Haveli and DD
India
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
17:00 – 18:15 HRS GMT
Ajay Kumar:
Negative Projection of Holi (Phagwa) Festival in Hindi Cinema
Assistant
Department
Political
Ramanujan
University of Delhi Kalkaji, New Delhi-19
India
Professor, of Science, College
Gargi Talapatra:
Bollywood, Music and Phagwa: A Study in Cultural Representations
Assistant Professor in the Department of English, The Bhawanipur Education Society College, Kolkata
Devika Misra:
Phagwa in Film: Between Freedom of Expression and Climactic Action
PhD Research Scholar,
Latin
Studies,
School
International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
American CCUSLAS, of
Question and Answer Session
PANEL 11
The songs of the Phagwa Festival (Chowtaal, Ulaara, filmi, Pichakaree and others)
Chair: Kalpana Hiralal: (to be confirmed)
Introduction of presenters by chair
South Africa
Shivannand Maharaj:
University of the West Indies
Trinidad
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
2:20: p.m. – 3:05: p.m.
18:20 – 19:05 HRS GMT
The songs of the Phagwa Festival (Chowtaal, Ulaara, Filmi, Pichakaree and others)
Annapurna Devi Pandey:
The Feast of Love revisited: The impact of Bollywood Holi Songs on the Indian Diaspora in the U.S.A.
University of California, Santa Cruz
Question and Answer Session
PANEL 12
Phagwa as a community voice – The Kendra Phagwa Festival Pichakaaree Competition, Hori Songs and Children’s Phagwa
3:10 p.m. – 3:55 p.m.
19:10 – 19:55 HRS GMT
Chair: Aneela Bhagwat:
Introduction of presenters by chairman
Trinidad
Maggie Griffith Williams:
“I am Trini, I am Indian, I am Hindu”: Diaspora identity and creating culture through pichakaree
Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts
U.S.A.
Geeta Vahini:
Pichakaaree – A Community Voice
President, Hindu Prachaar Kendra
Trinidad
Primnath Gooptar:
The Children’s Phagwa in Trinidad : passing on the tradition to the next generation
University of the West Indies / NCIC
Trinidad
Visham Bhimull:
The Language and lyrical content of Hori Geet
NCIC Trinidad
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Kirti Algoe & Nitin Jagbhandhan
Phagwa in Suriname: a reflection on the decision making as a national holiday & the changing celebration.
Suriname
KAL, AAJ AUR KAL
The future of Phagwa Celebrations in the Indian Diaspora
PANEL 13
Indian Diaspora Round Table
4:00 p.m. – 5:35 p.m.
20:00 – 21:35 HRS GMT
Sanobar Haidar
Manpreet Kaur
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee Kalpana Hiralal
Ravi Dev
Dewkoemar Sewgobind Sadhana Mohan Ravindranath Maharaj (Raviji) Tara Singh
Satish Rai
Jai Sears
Winston Tolan
India
Fiji Mauritius South Africa Guyana
Suriname
Trinidad and Tobago U.S.A.
Australia
Grenada
Jamaica
Chair: Farzana Gounder
&
Arvind Singh
Introduction of presenters by chair
New Zealand &
Trinidad
RESOLUTIONS
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
ITEM
LOCAL TIME &
GMT TIME
NAMES
& PRESENTATIONS
PROFESSION &
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
AND CLOSURE
5:35 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
21:35 – 22:00 HRS GMT
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
PHAGWA IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE: TRADITIONS, INNOVATIONS AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS
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First International Phagwa Conference 2021
Abstracts and Biographies
Brinsley Samaroo
Chair : Panel 1
Professor Emeritus Brinsley Samaroo is the former Head of the History Department at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. He has done notable research and work on the history of Trinidad and Tobago, the
working-class
political and
developments and Indo- Caribbean history.
In addition to this, he has served as a senator, Minister and Member of Parliament in the Government of the Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago.
Publications by Professor Samaroo include The Art of Garnet Ifill: Glimpses of the Sugar Industry, The Price of Conscience: Howard Noel Nankivell and Labour Unrest in the British Caribbean.
Sanobar Haider
‘Phagwa and Awadh’ (Historical perspectives)
Phagwa as the Festival of Colours is the crowning glory of Indian multiculturalism. Popularly known as Holi, the festival is celebrated with grandeur not only in different
movements, institutional
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parts of India but also in several parts of the world. There is a history which goes behind the observation of this legendary festival in India which also symbolizes communal amity of our nation having a diverse culture and heritage. The nawabs of the erstwhile Awadh were not untouched by the hues of Holi and were known for their stupendous celebrations. The nawabs being the ruling class worked towards promoting communal harmony and religious bonhomie in their kingdom by not letting any festival being restricted to a particular community. Many celebrated poets like Meer Taqi Meer, Saadat Yaar Khan “Rangeen” and Ustad Khwaja Haider Ali “Aatish” also could not remain undrenched by the spirit of Lucknow’s Holi. The last and the most unfortunate Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah, was also a major Holi enthusiast. He not only played with colours with absolute enthusiasm and gusto, but has also wrote several compositions describing the beauty of this festival. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s famous Thumri- More Kanhaiya aaye jo palat ke, Abke Holi me khleungi dat ke, Unke Piche Me Chupke Se jake, Me Unhe Bhi Rang Dungi”, relates well to the spirit of Holi associated with Radha and Lord Krishna. Many anecdotes are associated with the phagwa celebrations of the nawabs which shall be dealt with further in the research paper in detail.Sanobar Haider
Dr Sanobar Haider is currently working as Assistant Professor and Head , Department of History MBP Government P.G. College, Lucknow. She is an avid Lucknowite with a keen interest in the teaching of the History of India, a subject in which she has a Doctorate. The author has scripted several research papers which have since been published in various national and international journals. The author’s research topic for her Ph.D., “Law and Justice in the United Provinces, 1877- 1937,” provided her an insight into the
erstwhile kingdom of Oudh, immersing her deeply into the exploration of the fabled city of Lucknow.
Having excelled in academics at all levels she has to her credit a number of academic accomplishments. Besides excelling in various competitive examinations, the author has to her credit the founding of the Avadh Girls Degree College Alumnae Association, which saw the light of the day due to her initiative and dynamism.
The author has also had keen leanings towards doing research related to the history and culture of Awadh. The majestic monuments of Lucknow and the rich heritage of this
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erstwhile kingdom holds a treasure trove of information and a legacy which needs protection and care she believes. Two books have also been authored by Dr Haider. The author has been appointed as a member of the National Archives Grants Commission by the Ministry of Culture, GOI. She is also a gold medalist in law.
Gargi Bhattacharya:
Vasantotsav (Spring Festival) in Bengali Culture: Celebration and Philosophy
Beside the traditional set-up of common Hindu ritual-based Holi, Bengal celebrates the full moon day of the month of Falgun in a different vein. It is known as Vasantotsav (Spring Festival). In the thirties of the last century, this non-religious format of Phagwa Festival was introduced to Santiniketan, a small part of Bengal, known as the abode of nature and peace. It was Rabindranath Thakur, the poet, the Nobel-laureate, the founder of Visva-Bharati University who conceptualized the idea of Vasantotsav (Spring Festival), though in 1907 the festival was primarily introduced by his little son Samindranath simply as a celebration of seasons. Beyond the narrow socio-religious discrepancies, the season of love and accord is welcome by songs, dances, poems, flowers and colour dust adopting a definite form of presentation that was designed by some great scholars and artists of Santiniketan. Not only the cultural traditions of local tribes, like Santals, but also the customs of different parts of India like Gujrat, Manipur and the countries like Java, Sri Lanka have been encompassed in this Spring Festival. The spirit of harmonizing the cultural identities attracts thousands of people to Santiniketan to enjoy the day of Holi every year. Furthermore, this particular pattern of Holi is being enormously accepted all over Bengal and celebrated by the academic institutions, local youth clubs and cultural groups with huge enthusiasm.
This paper would sketch the historiography of Vasantotsav (Spring Festival) in the Bengali culture, exploring the philosophy behind it. How deeply it is rooted to the
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ancient Indian tradition and how it reflects universal brotherhood would also be addressed in the discourse.
Gargi Bhattacharya (b.1976) is working as an assistant professor in the Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, Visva-Bharati (A Central University), Santiniketan, West Bengal, India for the last seventeen years. She did her M.A., MPhil and Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta. Her research interest area includes Ancient Indian Scriptures, Indian Philosophy, Manuscriptology, Translation Studies, and Cultural Studies. She is trained in deciphering different ancient and medieval Indian scripts. More than twenty research papers of her have been published in various journals and anthologies. A Paper entitled ‘Formation of Hindu Law through Translation in the Rule of British East India Company’ is published from Bloomsbury in 2019. She translated the minor Upanisads into Bengali, published by the Ramakrishna
Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, Kolkata, in 2015. Her upcoming book will be on the translations of Dara Shukoh. She is now enjoying the associateship of UGC-IUC in the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. She remained in the chair of Vice-Principal of Bhasha- Bhavana (Institute of Language, Literature and Culture), Visva-Bharati, for the last three and half years.
Email: visva2003@gmail.com
Primnath Gooptar
The revival of the Phagwa Festival in Trinidad: The roles of the Hindu Jawaan Sangh and the Sanatan Dharma
Maha Sabha
The Phagwa Festival or Holy Festival was brought to Trinidad by the Indian indentured immigrants as early as 1845 when they were brought to work on the sugar estates after the abolition of slavery. After their contracts with the sugar estates ended, they settled in lands around the estates in what became known as Indian settlement communities or simply Indian settlements. There they practiced their culture, their religion, their festivals and increasingly among other things, the Phagwa Festival was one of the important festivals they kept alive and passed on to future generations. In the early
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days of the celebration, it was an individual or family event and generally located in the villages but by the 1950s most of the family individual village celebrations had fallen away and there emerged a few centralized or public celebrations in areas such as Penal, Cedros, Princes Town, Rio Claro, Aranguez, Curepe, Tacarigua, Arouca, Chaguanas and other areas. However, by the 1970s most of those public celebrations had fallen away and there were only two active celebrations, one in San Juan and the other in Curepe but by 1982 the celebrations had once again been increased beyond what it was before and there were at least public 22 celebrations in the country.
This paper traces the revival of the phagwa celebration in Trinidad in the late 1970s and early 1980s through the intervention of the Hindu Jawaan Sangha and the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago Incorporated.
Primnath Gooptar is a writer, biographer, social worker, cultural promoter, former school principal and lecturer in Indian Cinema, UWI, St. Augustine. He has presented several papers on the Indian indentureship experience at conferences in countries such as Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, Mauritius, St. Vincent and India. He is the author of ten books.
Primnath Gooptar holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).
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Satish Prakash Phagwah and its Observance
Festivals are celebrated all over the world by people practicing different religions and cultures. Festivals are of many kinds and they often serve to fulfill specific communal purposes like commemorating an event in religious history or expressing gratitude to religious personalities. These festivals also seek to inform people of their traditions and, in being celebrated, they provide a means for unifying their people. Indian culture is no different from other cultures. A glance at the Indian cultural calendar shows that Indians, especially Hindus, celebrate a diverse number of festivals, some focusing on ancient Hindu mythology and others coinciding with seasonal changes. Two such Hindu festivals that are rooted in both mythology and seasonal changes are Phagwah and Diwali.
Phagwah is a name derived from the last month of the Hindu year called Phaagun, and is observed on, or immediately after, the last full-moon day of this Phaagun month. This festival is important for a number of reasons, as follows:
1. It comes at the end of the old Hindu year.
2. Just a fortnight after it is observed, the new Hindu year begins.
3. It signals the commencement of the spring season. Winter brings coldness and virtual death to trees in the neighbourhood. When spring comes, the wintry cold in India is gradually coming to an end. Newness comes to the surrounding with crops ready to be harvested, with new buds shooting out and giving birth to leaves and multi-coloured flowers, and with birds coming out of their hibernation and filling the atmosphere with their musical chirping sounds.
In celebrating Phagwah, Hindus welcome the newness that is now born in the atmosphere. They respond to the warmth and life brought in by early sunrise, to colours
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The Festival of Love:
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in blossoming flowers, and to beautiful sounds in their surrounding by breaking out in music, song and dance. While singing and dancing, they spray multiple colours on each other, significantly wishing that colours of joy, understanding and social harmony replace suffocating darkness associated with broken relationships, hate and intolerance both in individual human hearts and in human society.
While festivals of all cultures undoubtedly have their inherent value, the Hindu festival of Phagwah is unparalleled in significance. It establishes a bond between human hearts and the atmosphere in such a way that its impact lingers long after the observance. So substantial is this king of festivals that people begin to celebrate it quite a few days before its official calendar date of observance and even several days after that date. The colourful markings of Phagwah on people’s faces take a few days to be washed away and they serve to remind celebrants of the deep social significance of this most important festival.
Bio
Satish Prakash, PhD is the Founder-Acharya of Maharshi Dayananda Gurukula in New York City and Guyana
Keshwar Ramkissoon Legends of Holi
The Festival of Colours:
Holi or Phagwah is known as the Festival of Colours and is one of India’s grandest and most popular celebrations. Holi 2021 will be celebrated on March 29th and Holika Dahan on the 28th. The Holi festival traditionally celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is associated with many legends, including the story of Holika.

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Rangwali Holi is also celebrated in memory of the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha. On Vasant Panchmi, Shiva, the yogi, opens his third eye and burns Kama, the love god, to ashes. The legend of the ogress (female monster) Dhundi says that she was chased away by the people of Prthu owing to a curse from Lord Shiva.
The Festival of Spring:
In addition to its religious aspects, Holi also celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. This festival is also known as Dhulandi, a name popular in the state of Haryana, India.
A quick presentation will unfold the way Hindus celebrate this festive season of Phagwah or Holi in Guyana:
Planting of Holika – 40 days prior
Singing of chowtal and songs continuously
Programs –schools, concerts, charity Burning of Holika – night before
Phagwah Day – Picking up ash
Walking around the village
Singing of chowtal
Mandir Service
Visiting members’ homes Celebrations in parks and grounds
Day after Phagwah – Inviting families and friends COVID-19 Restrictions?
Going Forward – What the future holds
Wishing you and your family Shubh Holi!
Poem to be read by 10-year-old Gowrie Ramkissoon: “HAPPY HOLI
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Keshwar Ramkissoon is a Medical Doctor living in New York.
Email: kramkissoon26@gmail.com
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee Chair: Panel 2
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Nisha Ramracha
The Cultural Appropriation, Secularization, Sacrilege, Desecration and Desacralization of Phagwa (Holi)
Phagwa as it is known by the Indo-Caribbean Hindus or Holi as it is renowned to the world and in popular culture is one of the most exhilarating and fun festivals in Hinduism celebrated with immense merriment, pomp and fervor. However, Phagwa is fast becoming a Hindu festival that is experiencing colossal cultural appropriation, secularization, sacrilege, desecration and desacralization. While there are a large number of non-Hindus and Hindus who enjoy the festivities with utmost respect in a balance of acculturation and assimilation there are plenty of mainstream media, movies, rationale, events, academia and activism designed to appropriate, desecrate, misuse and abuse the more religious and spiritual Hindu aspects of Phagwa outside of its sacred realm and dharmic context. This is being done both consciously by organized anti-Hindu forces and subconsciously being propagated by the public as well as for quick economic gain. Much of the desacralization is taking place under the garb of institutions such as free speech, democracy, art and academia all meted out for dispossessing Hindus of their festival. Meanwhile, many Hindus remain insufficiently cognizant of the current and future problems this presents to the practice, existence and endurance of their religion. This paper will describe these aspects and address the concerns of such cultural appropriation, secularization, sacrilege, desecration and desacralization with global examples including from North America, Europe, India and within the Caribbean region. It will also discourse on what methodology Hindus must adopt to ensure Phagwa or Holi maintains its spiritual character and how Hindus must remain vigilant, educate themselves and the world about such trepidations to safeguard cultural preservation and the collective intellectual property rights of their Hindu faith while sharing the festivals of Sanatan Dharma and its philosophies with humanity.
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Nisha Ramracha is a classical archaeologist from New York City, originally from Trinidad and Tobago with an A.S. in Science, a B.A. in Classical Archaeology/Religion, minors in Latin/Greek/German/. Nisha also holds an M.A. in the
Archaeology of the Classical/Late Antiquity/Islamic Worlds with studies in Mayan Archaeology, Medieval Studies, Islamic Art and Architecture, and Maritime Archaeology (completed at New York University). She
did her Master’s Thesis on an analysis of the gold and silver coinage of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. Her research concentrates on Alexander the Great, ancient monuments, military strategy and ancient Greek coinage.
She presents her work internationally, including in the U.S.A as well as at the Global Indian Diaspora Conference in 2017, and the Diaspora Conference at the Universiteit Van Suriname in 2018. She previously excavated in the archaeological digs of Getae, Roman and Byzantine Forts/Settlements in Romania. She is a member of the prestigious Greek and Latin Honour Society Eta Sigma Phi and Phi Beta Kappa. Nisha is an academic and historical fiction writer with published print and online news articles including for Indo Caribbean Diaspora News (ICDN) where she focuses on Indology, Indo-Caribbean history and Hinduism. In her spare time, she is also an avid enthusiast of music, singing both western and Indian music. Nisha partakes in archery, martial arts, horseback riding and is an adventurer.
Email: ringdragon13@hotmail.com
Neha Singh
Re-awakening of Indian Diaspora’s Cultural Heritage: Understanding Phagwa as Carnivalesque Setting
Phagwa represents the arrival of the spring season and it also symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The celebrating spirit of Phagwa draws attention towards its similarity with the concept of carnival setting. Mikhail Bakhtin says that carnivalesque imagery
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draws on the mischievous and playful spirit of the Carnival which mocks authority, subverts power relationships, and, by emphasizing the body, laughter, and role play try to create a new world. Carnival is the mischief that is allowed because it is something we get out of our system. It is having a conservative function – by allowing us a bit of mockery, the usual system runs better the rest of the time. Women during phagwa celebration construct their own spaces. This carnivalesque setting of Phagwa serves as a metaphor where people from different cultural groups join the masses to show solidarity. The Phagwa carnival is characterized by the spirit of possibilities, of renewal, of the tearing down of old forms and creations of new ones and it also symbolizes the uniting of different cultures. The Phagwa music acts as an agent to bring communities together. The carnival of Phagwa is a performative ritual of cultural resistance and awakening, claiming space and celebrating freedom from any kind of oppression. This paper will be looking at how the Phagwa ritual helps in understanding the relationship between the memory of the past, cultural dissemination, and how this has become the festival of not only the Indian community but also of different cultural groups. This paper also tries to understand how this carnivalesque space bridges the gap between different cultural groups and forefronts the message of unity in diversity.
Keywords: Carnival, Phagwa Celebration, cultural resistance, Indian cultural heritage, Carnivalesque
Dr Neha Singh is currently working as Senior Academic Officer at IL & FS Education Technology, Noida, India. She has a PhD in the discipline of Diaspora Studies. She is also a Google (GFE Level 1) and Microsoft Certified Educator. She has delivered online training on Technology enriched Language Teaching-Learning, Online Lesson Planning: Effective Tools and Platforms, An Integrated Approach to Language Teaching, Technology enabled Language Teaching and Home based learning addressing digital divide issues in Low bandwidth area (Assam Oil India Dikhya Project). She
was also a part of designing an online course ‘How to effectively teach online’. She has completed her M. Phil Degree from the same centre. She has graduation and post- graduation in English Literature. She has already published papers in the field of soft skills, Indian writing in English, diaspora studies and gender studies. She also worked as Research Assistant in Department of Education in Languages, NCERT New Delhi. Her research interest includes Diasporic literature, Postcolonial writings and Women’s issues and writings. She completed her tenure of Research Assistant at Centre of Early
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Childhood and Development, Ambedkar University New Delhi. She has also worked as Assistant Professor at Department of Arts at Subhash Chandra Mahavidyalaya. She grabs under her bag a long list of experience from National & International Conferences/ Seminars, Workshops in India & Abroad. She has a long list of publications in the field of Gender Studies, Diaspora, English Literature and Communication Studies. She is a part of Research and Content support and editorial team of Newsletter: – Teaching as Lifelong Learning (TaLL). As a Research Scholar in the Central University of Gujarat, she received ICSSR Travel grant for her research work. She visited Mauritius in 2017 and conducted ethnographic research to study the role of women of Bhojpuri community in cultural production in Mauritius. Recently she presented her Research Paper in an International Conference held at the University of London and University of Mauritius. She has published book on Indian diasporic films and contributed various articles on language learning and social science issues in monthly e-magazine TaLL. She is working on edited book Literature of Girmitya: History, Culture, and Identity (Co-editor Dr Sajaudeen Chapparban) and translating book of Dinesh Shrivastava’s book Bharatiya Girmitya Majdoor aur unke Vanshaj.
Research Interest
Email: neha87always@gmail.com
Jaidath Maharaj
Non-traditional presentations and celebrations of the festival using technology
SWAHA Inc. in its assessment of the external environment has identified the need to change the traditional method of delivery of various events. This started with Ramleela where widespread stage presentation was introduced locally in various communities over 26 years ago. This appealed to a different demographic of Hindus, especially educated youths. In 2016 the SWAHA Gyaan Jyoti Mandali under the leadership of the
Migration & Diaspora Studies, Girmitiya Literature, Oral Tradition & Bidesia Folk Culture, Cultural Studies and Research
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Spiritual Leader, Pt. Jaidath Maharaj, produced a pilot for the first ever local Ramayana movie, using 100% community talent and skills.
SWAHA Inc. sees this as the future of Phagwa and all other key events and occasions on the Hindu religious calendar. The presentation will focus on the benefits of such an approach given the changing realities of the society, greater demands on time and the connection and competence that the young Hindus (technology natives) have with technology.
To demonstrate the potential for the use of technology to promote Phagwa in the future (given the VUCA environment), the pilot on Ramleela will be presented. This is a 7- minute video, filmed, edited and narrated by the SWAHA Gyaan Jyoti Mandali. This will be accompanied by a power point presentation that speaks to the benefits for the promotion of Phagwa, economic opportunities and the marketing of Phagwa to national, regional and international institutions and audiences.
Pt. Jaidath Maharaj is the current president of
SWAHA Inc. He is a fourth generation Pundit in Trinidad and Tobago having come from a long lineage of Brahmin Pundits. He is the Spiritual Leader of the SWAHA Gyaan Jyoti Mandali and has led the organization to the construction of a Hindu Centre in Madras with a market value in excess of
TTD 4 Million. He has provided leadership to the community of Madras and continues to work through the Hindu Centre to develop the spiritual, social, educational and economical aspects of the members of the community.
Academically he holds a Master of Education and an Executive MBA, both from the UWI and both with distinction. He holds a postgraduate diploma in education administration as well as multiple qualifications in quality management from international organizations.
Professionally he is an executive in the area of higher education and has in excess of sixteen years in the area of educational leadership and management. He is currently a
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part-time lecturer, executive education facilitator and a consultant in the area of academic administration, student management, service quality and quality management.
Ranjana Krishna
Rethinking Phagwa in Classical Traditions and Modern Times (A study with special reference to Hindustani
Literature in Awadh region)
Phagwa is the celebration of democratization of human spirit and an expression of Indian sensibility. Phagwa constitutes Indianness and manifests the same in many ways. Phagwa, though celebrated in different regions of the world, has an unmistakable unity. This paper provides insights into the various ways in which the interrelated issues of culture, identity and Indianness are expressed in Phagwa.
The paper is divided into three sections.
The first section traces the myths and legends related to Phagwa. It takes up classical texts as well as regional literatures which have made significant contributions to the evolution of Phagwa.
The second section deals with the medieval period and covers the various facets of Phagwa literature including Ram Charit Manas composed by Goswami Tulsidas and other Sant literatures written in various parts of India.
The third section looks at the course of Phagwa history in modern times in an analytical and critical manner. The focus is on literature written in Awadh region with special focus on Awadhi, Braj, Bhojpuri and Hindustani literature.
The paper attempts to record a systematic and comprehensive history of Phagwa, tracing its beginnings and its changing facets over the centuries. Travelling through the mythology and history of Phagwa the paper underlines the importance of popular beliefs and well-established perspectives for its better understanding. It also explores the various ways in which Phagwa has been viewed in art, literature and architecture.
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Dr. Ranjana Krishna is Associate Professor and Head, Department of English. She teaches American and British Literature at Avadh Girls’ P.G. College, University of Lucknow. She is a Fellow Associate at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, HP. Currently, she is working in the field of translation studies. Her research areas include cultural studies, gender studies and women’s studies. She has edited books and written book reviews for several newspapers and literary journals. She has published several research papers in national and international journals.
drkrishnaagdc@gmail.com
Ranjana Krishna Chair: Panel 3
Doolarchan Hanoomansingh
Phagwa in Trinidad and The Indo-Trinidadian middle- class
Phagwa at Williamsville needs limited support from the organizers. On Phagwa day the venue is made available with a DJ playing Phagwa and filmi songs. A stage is provided for a dance troupe and a few artistes to perform usually at a small fee.
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Teenagers who form 70% of the celebrants come accompanied by family, relatives and friends in large groups. Toddlers are also many, but they are constantly under the care and supervision of their parents and grandparents.
The organizers provide free gulal and abir to all under 12 years. Nevertheless, participants usually bring their abir in plastic containers, not depending on the free abir and gulal. Corn soup and snacks are also distributed free of charge but there is always an air of dignity and hesitance in accepting these handouts. Most prefer to buy from the few stalls selling Indians sweets and drinks.
It is only a handful of people who make the sacrifices to garner resources and put logistics in place for the three-hour long celebrations. The local regional corporation (PTRC) does not provide any active support except to make available the venue when requested. There is a sports club, and they express an unwillingness to take a bye from their regular cricket games. The business community and even the Mandirs show little or no interest.
The paper would underline the reality that a few individuals with limited resources can run successful programs such as Phagwa. It would also highlight the alienation of the politicians and the business community from the people and the inability of Hindu organizations to work together to create successful programs. It would also highlight that the people have a resilience to identify with the heritage by actively participating, and not depending on handouts.
Dool Hanomansingh, B.A. Degree in History (UWI), is a school teacher, researcher and writer. His publications include Doon Pandit-His Life and Times; Pandits and Politics-a Study of the Divine Life Society and Profiles of Nation Builders. Dool Hanomansingh served with the Hindu Jawaan Sangh and the Hindu Seva Sangh. He is currently the editor of ICDN.TODAY.
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Pawan K. Upadhyaya Similarities of Holi in Guyana and India
Holi is among the most famous festivals of India/Bharat. Holi is well known as Phagwa or Fagua. It has been around in India for thousands of years. Holi is celebrated after winter. It is also the celebration of Indian new year after the wheat harvest. The farmers, after harvesting and keeping the wheat in their house, become happy and play with colours of water and or powder. People from upper class or lower class become equal. They play together.
Holi is national culture of India, tradition of India. In Holi, people forgive their quarrel and become friends. This the good quality of Holi.
Holi in eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and western part of Bihar, Bhojpuri speaking area from where most of the Indentured Labourer, known as Girmitiya belong, is very popular. These labourers went to Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean and other places in Africa, Pacific, and Indian Ocean.
I visited Guyana in 2017 at the time of Holi and found some similarities and some differences from India. I was very much surprised after seeing the Holi celebration in Guyana. Many times I felt that I was in India. A old lady hugged me when she came to know that I am from India and came for a conference. She was very much pleased and began talking about her ancestors and how blessed she was to meet someone from the ancestral holy land.
First, I am talking about the similarity in India and Guyana in Holi Phagwa celebration.
I saw people were going for colour play on big open vehicle and throwing colours on the people standing on the roadside. People from their balcony were also throwing colours on the vehicle people. All were in enthusiastic and happy mood. All were in colour from top to bottom. Children were playing colours from Pichikaari; all kids were in full of joy. National Holiday was there, and all top leaders of Guyana were at one place for Holi celebration. President and PM of Guyana were also there. Cultural program was celebrated in that Holi program.
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I went to the stadium and saw Hindi Holi song and music was running; all youths were dancing, and they were in full of joy. These were the main similarity of Holi celebration.
Difference which I saw was very few. One thing that after colour playing in the evening people visit to most of the friends and neighbours’ houses. Most of the people specially kids wear new clothes in India. Gujhia is the main sweet of Holi. When any one visit to any house he gets Gujhiya as a sweet.
In this paper, I will describe my experiences in Guyana on Holi and identify some similarities and differences.
Bio
Pawan K. Upadhyaya is working on searching roots in India. He is a journalist in India. He visited Trinidad, Guyana, and Surinam during the time of Holi in 2017.
Vishnu Bisram:
Introduction and Evolution of Phagwah Celebrations in Guyana
Phagwah or Holi is essentially a Hindu or Indian celebration. It is a national holiday in India. Phagwah is celebrated in every society and country, including U.S.A., where Indians or Hindus have settled. The festival is widely celebrated in the Caribbean countries of Guyana, Surinam, and Trinidad. Apart from India, Guyana is the only other country where Phagwah is a national holiday. And unlike other Indian or Hindu or Indo- Islamic festivals, Phagwah is nationally celebrated by all ethnic or religious communities. It is the only Indian festival in which all groups partake, coming out in the streets to play Phagwah — pouring or sprinkling water, a beer, talc powder, etc. on each other. It is the only festival that transcends caste, class, race, and religion in India, Guyana, the Caribbean, and wherever it is celebrated. In Guyana, in spite of ethnic acrimony, people of all ethnicities look forward to the festival. This article examines the introduction and evolution of Phagwah celebration in Guyana and how it has become a national festival.
Keywords: Indian Festival, Phagwah, Guyana national celebrations
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Dr Bisram is a holder of multiple doctorates in the social sciences. He has taught social science subjects in the U.S.A. over the last forty years. In addition, he is a newspaper columnist and pollster. He writes extensively on Indian Diaspora issues. Over the last three decades, he has travelled the globe studying and writing on the diaspora.
Ariti Jankie
The Importance of preserving the PHAGWA tradition
Phagwa or Holi popularly known as the Festival of Colours is also, spiritually, a time of renewal and purification. It gained its origin in Lord Vishnu’s incarnation as Narasimha, part-human and part-lion. Also symbolic of fertility and harvest especially in Punjab, Phagwa also celebrates the love of Sri Krishna and Radha in a 16-day period of festivities.
In north India, with its tumultuous history, Phagwa has the power to unite like no other festival. A handful of coloured powder, some dye diffused into water brings joy to young and old, rich and poor cutting through the barriers of creed and caste. Handed down in the oral traditions of India, Phagwa has immersed itself in all its hues among the people of Indian origin in the diaspora.
However, like most holidays, Phagwa has lost its ritualistic aspect as it gains momentum throughout the world.
At the core of the celebration is a reminder that those who are pure of heart can rise above the darkness in this world and humanity, regardless of its current state, can redeem itself.
In the western world, as a result of the widespread following of Christianity, holidays like Christmas and Easter have retained their religious significance, while Phagwa remains at risk of losing its spiritual essence in the India diaspora.
This paper will follow the festival from its origin, through the ages, the good and the bad as well as the changes it has undergone in the diaspora., spiritually and otherwise.
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Email: aviteshdeepakk@yahoo.com
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It will also highlight the differences in celebration in India and the Caribbean as well as in America.
Born in a home rich in Hindu literature, Ariti Jankie has dedicated her life to the preservation and promotion of Indian Culture through her writing.
She began her writing career as a journalist at the Trinidad Express Newspaper. In 1984, she joined the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi and later worked at Hindustan Times and the Times of India.
She is the author of Witty & Wise, In the Footsteps of Rama, Hush. Don’t Cry, Path of Peace, Lilavati and other stories and East of the West/A Journey.
Avitesh Deepak Kumar Chair :Panel 4
Avitesh Deepak Kumar is a high school teacher employed by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, Fiji. He teaches English in junior and senior streams. Avitesh has presented collaborative papers at numerous local and international conferences. Recently, he presented a paper at an International Girmit Conference at the University of Fiji. He has published research articles in peer reviewed journals, book chapters and book reviews. His research interest lies in education, languages, creative writing and gender issues. Avitesh also writes poetry and short stories which are pending publication.

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Nirvana Persad
East Indian Identity in the West Indies
Phagwa/Holi originated in India and is based on the story of Holika and it has since been celebrated through many distinctive cultural aspects. The springtime festival brings about merriment for all age demographics as participants rejoice in the festivities together. Phagwa celebrations have since become an integral part of Indian identity among most areas of the Indian Diaspora and other areas where Indians have settled. In order for Indians to keep traditions alive in their given society, cultural retention must be adhered.
This research was conducted in order to examine the comparisons and differentiations among Phagwa/ Holi celebrations in certain countries. The resemblance in festivities were observed between India, the motherland of East Indian identity and Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana. The similarities and differences among cultural aspects such as Chowtaal/ bhajan singing, spraying of abir and powder as well as popular foods and drinks were considered and addressed as these influences are vital in the development of East Indian identity. Social aspects such as community gathering, and youth participation were also examined among the aforementioned countries’ celebrations
It was acknowledged that even though these Caribbean countries majorly employ many of these cultural and social aspects, they also distinguish themselves from the original traditions and rituals by renewing such customs and values to reform their identity. Therefore, Phagwa/ Holi celebrations are compared and contrasted through cultural and social aspects to incur a proper interpretation of the distinctive versions that exist in the West Indies.
Bio
Nirvana Persad is a cultural activist in Sangre Grande, Trinidad. She is active in Ramleela, Phagwa and several other religious and cultural activities.
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Amita Esther David
Keeping Phagwa alive in a cosmopolitan world
The world has shrunk to a global village and it encompasses many varied cultures and traditions that have become inextricably entwined with people from different religious backgrounds coming together in matrimony. Phagwa, or Holi as it is called in India, is celebrated with great enthusiasm the world over by Hindus and non-Hindus and there are many traditions that are still followed by all. But as religions get mixed, do people keep their specific traditions alive or have the traditions been compromised or improvised for sake of convenience? This paper hopes to explore through the method of interview, the traditional forms of Phagwa or Holi that are still retained or are being kept alive by people from inter-religious marriages and other nuances. How do they pass on the tradition and culture of Phagwa or Holi to their off-spring?
The paper also hopes to explore how the celebration of the Festival of Colours – Holi- has changed over the years keeping in mind the stress on climate change.
Email: aedavid.itc@gmail.com
Amita Esther David, Ph. D., was born and brought up in Lucknow – the city of Nawabs. She has been teaching History to students at Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow, for the past two decades. Her interest in Oral History began as a student, with two dissertations carried out at the B A and M. Ed. levels, as case studies dealing with women empowerment, presented at conferences and later published. She has recently participated in The People Place Project research initiative focusing on stories of contemporary Lucknow, and her story ‘Chess – A Blueprint for Life’ was published in the book titled People Called Lucknow by Penguin- Random House, India.
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Ishita Sen
Bhang as a ‘gateway’ to study the ‘carnival’ of Phagwa
From mythical origins to cultural attributes, the festival of Phagwa or Holi has myriad associations. The socially accepted more of bhaang consumption is one that transcends social classes and backgrounds, enjoyed across rural villages in Northern India to more urban neighbourhoods. The traditional thandai, edibles like pakoras, or the modern bhang-booze cocktail, indicate how the cannabis-infused ritual drink has been reimagined over time. However, its anthropological connotations remain, as the tradition remains an inherent part of Indian spiritual culture. It was recognized as one of the five sacred plants listed in the Vedas, believed to dispense delight among human beings and release us from fear and anxiety. Its mythical associations with Shiva, who is said to have introduced bhaang to humankind, also grants divine sanction for people who may have religious or moral scruples.
Western culture seems to be gradually waking up to the medicinal and recreational properties of cannabis, but ganja, charas have long been used by Hindu godmen to experience heightened spiritual enlightenment. As a socially accepted alternative during Holi, bhaang provides an acceptable ‘gateway’ for normal people to set aside their individuality and mundane realities to enjoy a heightened sense of social unity. This study aims to provide an anthropological overview of the role of bhaang in the perception of the vernal festival of Phagwa as a ‘carnival’ – a reverse ritual that suspends the norms as socially desired behaviour is put off for a day, and social roles are temporarily shrouded behind the chaos of colour.
Bio
Ishita Sen resides in Kolkata, India and currently works as a Sub-editor for Benefactory Ventures’ Volv Media. She qualified the UGC National Eligibility Test after finishing her Masters Degree in English from the University of Calcutta. She also has a bachelor’s degree in English with honours from the Bhawanipur Education Society College, under the University of Calcutta.
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Neha Tripathi
Myriads of Cultural Cosmos: A Brief overview of Similarities between Chinese New Year and Phagwah
Festival
Both the Chinese New Year and Phagwah Festivals are celebrated with high fervor and energy in their respective countries as well as abroad by people of multicultural ethnicities with the growing concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkum’ (It is a Sanskrit word, meaning ‘the whole world is one big family’. Media has also played a huge role in ensuring the festival grows in spirit and numbers each year. The two festivals have transcended borders and barriers of race and communities with gusto.
Both the festivals are about big, bright and bold colours. To elaborate let’s understand the significance of the red colour in the two festivals. In Phagwah, red colour signifies fertility, blue is the colour of Lord Krishna, green symbolizes the start of spring or something new. Yellow being symbolically the significant colour of our favourite herb- turmeric (without whose presence, no Hindu festival is complete). Red is considered lucky and wards off evil-eye; hence it is the most predominant shade in Chinese New Year celebration.
Food is the focal point in both the festivals. If Chinese New Year is all about dumplings, long noodles and whole fish. Phagwah is incomplete without ‘Gujiya’(a sweet dumpling, native to Indian subcontinent), freshly harvested potato crackers and the infamous prasada (religious offering which worshippers consume after offering to the deity) of ‘Bhaang’ (traditional mildly intoxicating drink of India, made from young leaves and stems of Indian hemp plant).
Essentially in spirit, both the festivals celebrate a new beginning and an important milestone of the year. And both have a strong mythological background and roots of festivity and celebration.
Bio
Neha Tripathi is a research scholar at the University of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. The topic for her research is ‘Mediating Between Worlds: A Study of Chinese American Women’. She is in the last year of her research program and is planning on a submission early next year. She was awarded her English Honours and Masters in English from the same University. Her prime interest areas are women’s studies, cultural studies and
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diasporic writing. She is also beginning to read more regional writings and texts in translation.
Deoroop Teemal
Chair : Panel 5
Past student of Tunapuna Hindu Primary School and Hillview College. Attended the
University of The West Indies, St. Augustine. Graduated from the University of the West Indies with a BSc. in Civil Engineering, 1980.
Active in religious, social and cultural work in the Hindu community for past 38 years:
• Was involved with the Hindu Seva Sangh, Inc. of Trinidad & Tobago and served as its President for four years.
• President – HINDU SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH of Trinidad & Tobago from 2008 to present.
• First Vice President – National Council of Indian Culture.
• Chairman – International Day of Yoga Committee, Trinidad & Tobago.
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Shruti Srivastava
Portrayal of Phagwa in literature, film, art, media and other forms of representation
This paper aims to discuss the portrayal of Phagwa in literature, film, art, the media and in other forms. Phag is the folk song sung on the occasion of Holi. It is basically the folk song of Uttar Pradesh, but it is sung in adjacent territories too. While celebrating the festival of Phagwa, the beauty of nature and the love of Radha Krishna is depicted. The phagwa songs are sung in the form of music as hori in vocal classical music. Many poets of Bhakti Movement had taken Holi as symbol of showering of divine grace in the form of Rang. We are gifted with beautiful literary pieces on phagwa by leading writers and poets from time to time. Some representative verses and lines which I shall be discussing in detail in the later part of this paper are: Meera Bai `s ‘Shyam sakha mori rang de chunaria.’ Surdas `s‘Ritu phagun niyari ani ho. Phag Savaiye of Raskhan is read with great interest by readers. ’Many poets of Hindi have taken Holi as a symbol of love. They had taken Holi to express their deep emotions for their beloved. Bhartendu wrote `Gale mujhko laga lo `. Phanishwar Nath Renu wrote ‘Sajan Holi aai hai.’ Nirala composed beautiful a poem using this symbol ‘Sakhi Vasant aaya.’Enthralled by the festivity Shah Jahan named PHAGWA as Eid –e-Gulabi. In the land of Shanti Niketan Holi is celebrated as Basant Utsab. A divine communion of human and nature transcends the bond of time and culture. It started with an initiative by Sri Samindra Nath Tagore as Ritu Utsab. All these examples hint at the exuberance with which the festival has been celebrated across ages.
Dr. Shruti Srivastava is currently serving as a senior assistant professor in English at D.A-V. Degree College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. She did her Doctorate in English from D.D.U. Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur on topic Spiritual Quest in Emily Dickinson. Her primary areas of research are Indian Bhakti Poetry, Transcendental Literature, and Mystic Poetry, Romantic Poetry etc. She has translated several poems of Emily Dickinson into Hindi, which reflects her mastery of both languages. She has been awarded a grant by U.G.C. New Delhi for a Minor
Research Project on topic East and West Confluence: A Comparative Study of
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Transcendentalism and Indian Bhakti Movement. She also has good experience of teaching papers like Human Values & Professional Ethics, Professional Communication etc. Her areas of interest are not limited to the field of academics only; she finds her solace in cultural engagements like kathak dance, classical music and theatre.
Email: shruti.english11@gmail.com
Kumar Mahabir
Is Shakespeare’s Macbeth based on a Phagwa legend?
This paper/presentation interrogates the striking similarities between the Indian legend of Hiranyakashipu and the character and play of the same name, Macbeth/Macbeth. Both Hiranyakashipu and Macbeth were over-ambitious kings who turned into tyrants. Each plotted the murder of someone once held dear and close to them. This study goes further to argue that the story of Hiranyakashipu was first documented in the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa in 3100 BCE and was the source of the plot of Macbeth by William Shakespeare, written sometime between 1603 and 1607.
The paper/presentation also traces the history of trade between Europe and India dating from as early as 2000 BCE which influenced the economic, political, social, cultural and literary life of both societies. The romance of India attracted Europeans to the fabled land for thousands of years. In 1492, it drove Christopher Columbus to set sail across the Atlantic to find a sea-route to the land of gold, silk, spices and stories.
This study is framed in the literary theory of intertextuality first formulated by critics such as Ferdinand de Saussure, Mikhail Bakhtin and Roland Barthes, and later conceptualized by Julia Kristeva in 1966. Intertextuality is the influence of one text on another and the interconnections between both works of literature.
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Dr Kumar Mahabir is a former Assistant Professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida (UF), and his B.A., and M.Phil. degrees in Literatures in English from the University of the West Indies (UWI).
As a doctoral student, he won a Florida Caribbean Institute Award, an A. Curtis Wilgus Fellowship, and an Organization of American States (OAS) Fellowship. Dr Mahabir was among 50 recipients who received a Distinguished Alumni Award from UWI Alumni Association. He also received a National Award (Silver) for education from the Government of Trinidad and
Tobago.
He is the author of twelve (12) books including two national bestsellers Caribbean East Indian Recipes and Medicinal and Edible Plants used by East Indians of Trinidad and Tobago.
WhatsApp: (868) 756-4961
Email: dmahabir@gmail.com
Website: www.indocaribbeanpublications.com
Megha Choudhary
Fagwa through Art and Culture of Rajasthan
Fagwa or Holi is one of the most important festivals in Hindu Culture. The history around this festival is entrenched within a variety of customs and traditions. They are depicted in all forms of art and literature. This festive occasion is celebrated across the globe in many forms and among many different communities, which makes this festival laden with different meanings that vary according to the region and community that
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celebrates it. Its message goes beyond good and evil. It speaks about rejuvenation, rebirth and reconciliation.
This paper attempts to throw some light on the rich culture surrounding the Festival of Holi in the state of Rajasthan. Rajasthan is known for its cultural magnanimity and diversity. There are art forms and traditions that are directly related to Fagwa and represent the regional importance and meaning of the occasion to the local people. This richness on diverse traditional manifestations is now being used for diplomatic and economic purposes as well. So, a closer look at the regional aspect of an Indian state is in vein with the spirit of the conference.
Bio
Megha Choudhary is a research scholar in the Department of English at Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur. Her area of interests include postmodernism in literature and film and media studies and she is an enthusiast of theatre.
Email: Meghachoudharyy@gmail.com
Nutan Ragoobir
An analysis of the portrayal of Phagwa as seen in various forms of literature, festivals and film
The Hindu festival Holi or Phagwa dates back to the revered Srimad Bhagavata Purana, one of Hinduism’s eighteen sacred Puranas (ancient literatures). This celebration, like many other religious festivals signifies the triumph of good over evil. However, it extends to commemorate the arrival of spring where worship is often performed in front of a bonfire and colours are smeared on each other among song and dance. Phagwa has no doubt been popularized in various forms of literature, festivals and film, particularly Bollywood movies. Shakespeare’s Macbeth displays remarkable similarities with the Indian legend of Hiranyakashipu, around whom the plot of Holi is based while the
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Songkran Water Festival in Thailand and the Nowruz festival in Central Asia both celebrate the arrival of Spring with prayer, music, water fights and even bonfires. It is also undeniable that Bollywood has increased the love for Phagwa with heartthrob Rajesh Khanna parading through the Indian streets between clouds of coloured powder and with icon Amitabh Bachchan romancing his love interests in the songs ‘Rang Barse’ and ‘Holi Khele Raghuveera’ after enjoying a few glasses of bhang (Indian milk drink made from cannabis). This paper follows the evolution of the festival and analyzes its portrayal in various literature, festivals and movies, noting similarities, differences and even fusions.
Nutan Ragoobir is a senior insurance professional, entrepreneur, cultural activist. She was a recipient of a National Scholarship in the field of Mathematics from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in 2010. This led to her pursuing her undergraduate studies at City University, London. Her work in the insurance industry has recently led to her being awarded the Associate in General Insurance designation by The Institutes. As the descendant of an Indian indentured labourer, Ragoobir’s love for Indian culture led to her completing a Master’s Degree in Hinduism at the Hindu University of America, receiving
high praises for her thesis. In 2018, Ragoobir also represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 47th Know India Programme, a unique forum where young professionals of Indian origin develop closer bonds with India.
Ragoobir’s first book entitled, ‘Bihar and Beyond-the lives of our ancestors’, was published in 2019 narrating the lives of East Indians who despite being oppressed and dejected, faced every challenge head-on. While researching for this project, she realized the need to digitalize documents pertaining to the Indian Diaspora and so founded Girmitya Foundation, an NGO focused on preserving the heritage and legacies of Girmityas that host Girmitya Archives, an electronic library providing access to research relating to the Indian Diaspora. Once again, Ragoobir received high praises for this innovative idea.
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Jaidath Maharaj: Chair, Film Session
Maggie Griffith Williams Pichakaree: The voice of a people
This presentation involves a screening of an 18-minute video documentary on Phagwa and pichakaree in Trinidad. The genre of music called pichakaree is one of the uniquely Trinidadian characteristics of Phagwa celebrations in parts of the dual-island nation. In association with Trinity College in the United States, Maggie Griffith Williams created the film in 2002 as part of a larger research project. The film focuses on the Phagwa celebration within one Hindu Trinidadian community – the Hindu Prachaar Kendra. It features interviews with Raviji and Geetaji, who have been at the forefront of conceiving of, developing, and promoting pichakaree. They educate the audience on what Phagwa is and how pichakaree, the song genre, formed as well as the need that it fulfills for the community. Pichakaree artist, Savitri Jagdeo, discusses her song that year, its meaning within the political context of the time, and what pichakaree means to her. The film also includes interviews with the late Tony Hall and the late Kenneth Parmasad, both renowned artists, cultural activists, and scholars, who contextualize pichakaree within the national and historical frameworks, and discuss the importance of this song genre for the nation. The film is an excellent introduction to pichakaree for audiences that may be unfamiliar with the song genre.
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Maggie Griffith Williams, Ph.D. is a ciswoman scholar known for her work on media and culture, intercultural communication, critical mobilities, and social justice. She is a Lecturer at Northeastern University and a Visiting Scholar at Fordham University. Her research has been published in journals such as Mobile Media & Communication, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Convergence, and First Monday, and she regularly presents her work at national and international academic conferences. Her most recent book publication is titled, Migration, mobility and sojourning in cross-cultural films: Interculturing cinema (Lexington Books, 2020).
Email: mar.williams@northeastern.edu
Tara Singh Chair :Panel 8
Ranjana Kumari
The Phagwa Festival of the Indian Diaspora in Trinidad: The Changing Contour
Festivals are not only part of religion but are also a voice of society and culture. In Trinidad, festivals are an important part of the culture. In Trinidad due to colonial history, different cultures and national populations have settled. Along with these different types of population their culture and festivals have also travelled. These people used to practice their own festival which they received from their own traditions.
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The trajectory of the Festival of Colours, Phagwa, or Holi in Trinidad has kept alive the very essence of the festival. It is a festival of Hindu origin brought by the Indian indentured workers in Trinidad and other Caribbean countries from around the 1840s. It is a spring festival, which is associated with ideas of rebirth, renewal, reconciliation, and the blossoming of love. It is held around the first full moon in March to mark the end of the Hindu calendar’s twelfth month (Phagun). It reflects the East Indians’ culture in the indenture period in Trinidad. Now, it has been blended with western and African elements of culture of Trinidad.
The paper attempts a) to explore the journey of the Phagwa Festival of Hindus in Trinidad in the context of the social and cultural status of the East Indian in the Trinidadian society.
Bio
Ms. Ranjana Kumari is pursuing a PhD from the School of International Studies, Centre for Canadians, US and Latin American Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, after completing M.Phil at the same centre. The PhD thesis is on the identity of the Indian Diaspora in Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana. In February 2018, Central University of Gujarat held an International Conference on “Transnationalism, Culture, and Diaspora in the Era of Globalization” in which she presented a research paper on Chutney Music in Trinidad and Tobago. In the same year in the month of September University of Hyderabad held an International Conference on “Indian Diaspora and Transnationalism” in which she presented a research paper on Food Culture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Ishani Mukherjee and Maggie Griffith Williams
“Bura na mano, Holi hai!”: Gender, cultural space, and cultural performance during Holi in India and Trinidad
“Bura na mano, Holi hai!” (Don’t be offended, it’s Holi!) is an oft-repeated Hindi phrase used by participants of the Hindu springtime festival, Holi. Yet, the ways that Holi is played in various cultural contexts does not always invite carefree celebrations. In this paper we focus on how the festive play of Holi has evolved, in regressive and progressive ways, across two geocultural spaces. Through textual analysis of online news articles written between 2016 – 2019 about the celebration of Holi/Phagwa in India and Trinidad, we argue that cultural performance can evolve based on the varying cultural spaces where it occurs.
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Two themes comprise our analysis: (i) Holi play as street harassment and (ii) Phagwa play as cultural performance. In the Indian media context, Holi festivities are contested along gender lines wherein cultural play crosses acceptable physical boundaries and affords license for men to harass women. The contestations are increasingly fierce as Indian women are speaking out despite backlash. In the Trinidadian media context, contestations appear in terms of claiming the right to celebrate the festival at all, in a nation where Hindus are a minority religious group and where government funding decisions appear discriminatory along religious lines. Whereas public performances of Holi in India have become unsafe cultural practices and an additional outlet for Indian men to assert their gender privilege, public performances of Phagwa in Trinidad are billed as safe cultural practices meant to assert and claim a Hindu-Trinidadian identity that is disadvantaged in that cultural context.
Ishani Mukherjee
intercultural communication, gender, mobilities, social activism and South Asian media studies. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work has been published in edited volumes and journals like Convergence, Connexions, Studies in South Asian Film and Media, and Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.
Maggie Griffith Williams
Maggie Griffith Williams, Ph.D.
Her research has been published in journals such as Mobile Media & Communication, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Convergence, and First Monday, and she regularly
Ishani Mukherjee, Ph.D. is a ciswoman scholar known for her
research on
is a ciswoman scholar known for her work on media and
culture, intercultural communication, critical mobilities, and social justice. She is a
Lecturer at Northeastern University and a Visiting Scholar at Fordham University.
presents her work at national and international academic conferences.
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Barnali Pain
Palash Utsav: The Festival of Affirmation
Palash Utsav or Palash Parab is a festival that resonates deeply, into soulful interaction of the young and the old irrespective of caste and class, upholding the carnivalesque of renewal in the metaphoric cycle of Nature. Butea Monosperma or Palash fascinates people as the Flame of the Forest. The blooming of its flowers heralds the season of Spring. The juice extracted from the mashed flowers is used as colour to sprinkle on each other during Holi, the nationwide spring festival of colours. Mythologically, Palash is seen as a form of Agni. For the last fifteen years, a cultural group called Sangbedona represented mainly by Bengali speaking painters, singers, dancers, mountaineers, poets, composers, artisans have been regularly organizing Palash Utsav to mark the profuse blessings of Palash during Holi. This is held at Keotjali, a beautiful hamlet in Jamtara district in the West Bengal-Jharkhand border. This mesmerizing floral spot can be reached from anywhere. For the sake of festivity, people stay there overnight to bathe in the fiery vermillion shade of Palash, singing, dancing, feasting together. It is not simply a deconstruction of dominant culture. Such interactive spontaneity marks a definite break from Brahmininistic ritual based hegemony and urban dominance to a psycho- ecological vision of mutual cooperation and equality subsumed into a kind of lived collective body which is constantly renewed.
This paper proposes a representation of this Palash Utsav as an environmental connect associated with a specific flower which is native to India from an eco-critical perspective.
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Prof. Barnali Pain (1963- ) is an Associate Professor in the Department of English, S.A Jaipuria College, Kolkata. With three decades of experience in teaching English Literature at College, Prof. Pain is also a gender and environmental activist and researcher. Her areas of interest include environmental studies, gender and literature, cultural studies and historical criticism. She has been published in multiple journals of repute. She is also the Editor of Penscape, the
ISSN Journal of the Department of English (Day), S.A Jaipuria College. She has edited a Multi-disciplinary ISSN Journal from her College named J-Reader. She has also edited a few volumes of a Vernacular Journal on Gender Question entitled Khonj Ekhon, and a rich volume of women’s autobiography.
Besides being a devoted teacher, scholar and activist, Prof Pain is a brilliant Elocutionist and Bachik artist, a poet and composer of radio plays.
Archana Tewari
Phagwa in North India in the Decade of 70s and 80s
Phagwa or Holi is one of the most popular festivals of Indians. Holi is celebrated in the month of Phagun (according to the Hindu calendar) as victory of good over evil and is associated with fun, mirth and joy. The traditional way in which Holi was celebrated has undergone a great change. Urbanization, materialism and work-pressure have definitely affected the spirit of Holi. There is an urgent need to document the way in which the Holi was celebrated in by-gone times, to clearly understand the changes that have crept in.
For the purpose of documenting the researcher will interview men and women who are today in their late sixties and seventies. The interviewees will be asked searching questions regarding the manner in which the festival was observed (then and now), like burning of Holika, use of colours, cuisine, dress, community get-togethers, music programmes, poetry –recitation etc. One of the aspects of Holi is the release of pent-up emotions in terms of conferring ‘titles’ on fellow students, one’s teachers, staff, (political leaders and ministers in newspapers) etc. on the basis of their behaviour in school or
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work-place. The researcher will look into this aspect as well. The researcher will gather this information with the help of telephonic interviews and zoom interviews (in view of corona). The researcher will also make an effort to look into the archives of some local newspapers to bring out the varied aspects related to Holi.
Dr. Archana Tewari is Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Western History. Her area of specialization is Old Indian Diaspora. Her Ph.D. thesis is on Indian emigration to Trinidad. Her research paper titled “Indian Indentured Women in the Caribbeans and the Role Model of Ramayana’s Sita: An Unequal Metaphor” was published by Springer in 2018. A number of research scholars are working under her on different aspects of Indian Diaspora ranging from the role of Indian National Congress in the abolition of Indian Indentured labour to the policy of Indian government towards the Indian Diaspora.
Shyam Murli Manohar Pandey and Aparna Tripathi
Phagwa: A Connecting Thread between India and the Indian Diaspora in Trinidad and Tobago
Phagwa or Holi is a prominent religious festival which is celebrated by the Hindus majority in March month, each year in India. This festival is seen as a ‘festival of mass’ where the celebration begins with two individuals playing colour to two families and then community. But as with all observances in every multi-ethnic, multi-religious country, Phagwa is also celebrated by the wider Indian community worldwide. There are some festivals, which find their way across the border, and Phagwa, the Festival of Colours, is one of them. Phagwa is the symbol of signifying the victory of good over evil and signaling the onset of spring. Indians who are settled abroad greet friends and exchange sweets on the very occasion of Phagwa. It may well be a means to socialize but it also serves to bind the people of Indian origin and also to their roots. To look for
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example, at the large number of Indians residing in the America is to observe that Holi is celebrated with much fervor. Indians team up with their friends and relatives and celebrate the coming of spring. Being the second largest ethnic minority in the United Kingdom, Indians settled there do not miss out on the excitement of celebrating Holi. Here, Holi Parade is taken out. In Australia, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan takes a lead in terms of organizing festivities. Indians enjoy their performances and delicious Indian vegetarian food, and craft stalls are set up. In countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Mauritius and Fiji, where Indian people were taken as indentured labourers during the colonial era, Holi is celebrated with the same fervor as in India.
Indians who are living abroad maintain their integrity, cooperation and unity through Indian customs, traditions and festivals. Globalization is viewed as a key process in driving culture towards a global model and through this Indians maintain their cultural and social roots with India. So, this article points out the significance of Phagwa as a connecting thread between India and the Indian Diaspora. The article also deals with the pattern of changes in the celebration of festivals in Trinidad and Tobago and how with the passage of time and generations People of Indian origin have maintained their connection to religious festivals and practices as they were being done by their ancestors.
Keywords: Phagwa, Multi-ethnic, Indentured labourers, Integrity, Unity Shyam Murli Manohar Pandey
Shyam Murli Manohar Pandey is currently pursuing his M.Phil. in Diaspora Studies at Centre for Diaspora Studies in Central University of Gujarat. He has done his B.A. (Hons.) and Masters in Political Science from University of Delhi. His area of interest consists of International Relations, Indian Foreign Policy, Political Process in India, Indian Diaspora, Global Diaspora, Southeast Asia, South Asia etc. He has participated in different National and International Conferences, seminars and webinars.
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Aparna Tripathi
Aparna Tripathi is currently working as PhD Research Scholar at the Centre for Diaspora Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. She was awarded her M.Phil. in 2020 from the same centre. She completed her M.A. in Political Science from Banaras Hindu University. Her research interest includes Indian Foreign Policy, Indian Diaspora, and International Relations. She has been an active participant in different seminars and conferences and also presented many papers at different platforms.
Narinder Mukhamsingh Chair :Panel 9
Tara Singh
Holi Sammelan Celebration in New York
The Festival of Colours, the coming of spring, the triumph of good over evil, known as Phagwah or Holi, is celebrated in different forms in New York City. There are programs at Mandirs that focus on the religious aspect of Holi, and there are also the cultural activities, such as the annual Phagwah Parade and the Sammelan Festival. The latter is staged outdoor and it caters also to the aesthetic needs of Indo-Caribbeans. The Sammelan festival is organized by the Holi Sammelan and Festival Committee (HSFC). Other community groups put on special Phagwah programs at various catering halls.
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The Holi Sammelan & Festival Committee (HSFC) of New York is an offshoot of the Phagwah Parade and Festival Committee (PPFC) of New York that conducts the famous annual Phagwah Parade along Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, New York. The HSFC established its own identity in 2006 when it decided to provide another avenue in which people could participate in Holi festivities.
While the annual Phagwah Parade attracts thousands of people, the Sammelan caters for a smaller number of people (about 2,000 to 3,000). The HSFC was not meant as an alternative to the Phagwah Parade but rather as a complementary unit. The Phagwah Parade is mostly for the young people (below 50 years), where the environment is less restrictive compared with Mandirs, and where revelers pump their abeer and throw their powder with reckless abandon. Many of the older people are not only worried about being in a huge crowd, but also about being exposed to the huge mass of powder that floats into the air as well as the wintery weather.
In addition, many Mandirs and NGOs do not, for various reasons, take part in the Parade but still want to engage in the Holi festivities but in a more controlled, safe, and less polluted environment. This condition is offered by the Holi Sammelan and Festival Committee, which includes several Mandirs and NGOs. These organizations are given the opportunity to showcase their respective talents in Holi-related singing, dancing, acting, and Chowtaal singing. Goodwill messages are usually delivered by prominent community leaders and politicians. At the Holi Sammelan program in 2009, the chief guest of honour was Ms. Kamla Persad Bissessar, former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago.
After five years of tremendous success, the Maha Lakshmi Mandir premise, had been cited for building violations and fined heavily by the City. Thus the Holi Sammelan venue had to be closed, and HSFC sought an alternative open-air location at 133 Street and Liberty Avenue. That was a costly move as tents, generators, heaters as well as an architect had to be hired to create a layout plan for the City’s Building Department to approve. There has been a pause in the outdoor Sammelan program, but individual Mandirs continue with the cultural aspect of Holi within their Mandirs. Subject to any restriction imposed by COVID-19, HSFC is planning to revive the outdoor celebration in 2021 at a location in Jamaica, New York.
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Tara Singh was born in Canal No I, West Bank Demerara. He attended the famous McGillivary Canadian Mission School and later the University of Guyana. He did his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wales and post-doctoral work at London School of Economics and Political Science, School of Oriental Studies and at the University of Wales. He taught at the University of Guyana (UG) from 1978 to 1985 as a Senior Lecturer, after which he immigrated to the United States with
his family. In New York, he has been working with the City’s Planning Department.
Tara Singh is the recipient of the following academic awards. (1) British Technical Award to examine police practice and race relations in U.K.; (2) Commonwealth Scholarship (U.K.) Award to complete PhD degree program; (3). Senior Commonwealth Visiting Scholar Award to U.K.; (4). Fulbright Scholar Award at Farleigh Dickinson College, New Jersey; (5). Negotiated on behalf of UG a student exchange program in Social Work with Dalhousie University; (6). Served as Research Liaison between IDB and UG on a $(US) 16 million Human Resource Development project.
Tara has published many scholarly articles, manuscripts, and is contributing weekly articles to the West Indian newspaper on social, economic and political issues. He founded the Guyana Watch Medical Mission, which he also directed for 6 years. This year marks its 25th anniversary. A few years later, he founded the New York Guyana Medical and Humanitarian Mission (NYGM) and is serving as its President. This year marks NYGM’s 20th anniversary. Additionally, he has been serving as President of the Holi Sammelan and Festival Committee of New York since 2006. Tara’s contribution to charitable and medical missions is documented in several newspaper articles and other media.
Dr Tara Singh
New York Guyana Mission (NYGM). & IDC USA 87-64 98th St, New York, USA 11421 Mayakyl1959@gmail.com
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Washni Warsha Kumar, Parvin Lata and Gyaneshwar Rao:
Phagwa as a Community Festival
The Phagwa Festival, mainly referred to as Holi or Festival of Colours, was first introduced to the Indo-Fijian society during the indenture period in the 19th century. It is celebrated after the lunar month of Phalgun or simply known as ‘Faag’, which is the last month of the Hindu calendar. In Fiji, the Phalgun period is from February to March but the singing of the folksong (Faag) begins at least two to three weeks prior to the festival. The celebration holds great cultural and historical significance implying the victory of good over evil related to the story of Prince Prahlad and his devotion to Lord Vishnu. The celebration includes singing of Faag by various ‘village groups’ (mandali’s) known as the Faag mandali’s, making of variety of sweets, lighting of bonfires and smearing of powdered and water colours in fun and harmony. In a multi-lingual country like Fiji, Holi is no longer considered as the festival of Hindus but is widely recognized by people of all different religious backgrounds demonstrating the multiplicity of Fiji’s unique heritage. Thus, this research paper seeks to emphasize how Phagwa (Holi) is celebrated as a community festival in Fiji. It will also accentuate the history, rituals, advancements and the cultural significance of celebrating the festival.
Keywords: Phagwa, Holi, Multi-Lingual, Community Festival, History and Cultural Significance.
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Washni Warsha Kumar
Ms. Washni Warsha Kumar has completed her 2 years of tenure as a Part-Time Teaching Assistant at The University of Fiji. She has also worked as a Tutor at Edupia Co. (Fiji) Ltd. She has completed her Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Hindi and her Graduate Diploma in Teaching. Currently she is pursuing her studies in Postgraduate Diploma in English Literature. Washni teaches undergraduate level English and conversational Hindi under Medical Ethics & Cultural Terminology. She is a hardworking and dedicated person in her profession who has the capability to motivate her students towards a better future.
Email: washnik@unifiji.ac.fj
Parvin Lata
Parvin Lata began her career as an Administrator at Nadi Multi-Ethnic Cultural Centre and later joined The Jet Newspaper as an Administrator as well. After completing her Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Fiji, she started teaching in Hindi Language and Indian Culture (as a part-time assistant lecturer). After one year of teaching, she was appointed as a fulltime assistant lecturer in Hindi at the University of Fiji. She has also completed Graduate Diploma
in Teaching (GDT), Post Graduate Diploma in Hindi Literature and is currently doing her Masters in Hindi Literature at the University of Fiji. Parvin Lata now teaches undergraduate level Hindi. She is a passionate and hardworking person and has the capacity to encourage her students towards a better future.
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Gyaneshwar Rao
Gyaneshwar Rao is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department in Economics at The University of Fiji and Visiting Academic for MBA programmes at The University of the South Pacific. He has a Master of Arts in Economics with Major Research Exercise: An Analysis of Exports under Sparteca Trade Agreement. He teaches Undergraduate and Post Graduate Courses at The University of Fiji and has also conducted summer schools in Cook Islands, Lautoka and Labasa at the Post Graduate level. Mr. Rao has also written various research papers and participated in numerous conferences
locally and internationally. Email: gyaneshwarr@unifiji.ac.fj
Marcus Kissoon
Queer Participation and Inclusion in The Annual Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hill, Queens New York: Marcus
Kissoon in conversation with Mohamed Q. Aminm and Sundari The Indian Goddess
Religion has been one of the institutions that limits gender expression, sexual diversity, and rather, maintains rigid gender roles. Hinduism has proven to be one of the more liberal doctrines that speak to gender non-binary deities and has celebrated multiple gender identities in its traditions.
In 2016 the Caribbean Equality Project (CEP) was invited to participate in the 28th annual Phagwah parade in Richmond Hill, Queens. CEP is a non-profit organization that works
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towards advocating and empowering Caribbean queer diaspora throughout North America and has since established the Phagwah Social Justice Collective, a coalition of progressive community-based social, gender, and LGBTQ+ rights organizations and faith-based institutions. This essay is in conversation with Marcus Kissoon, activist, who interviews brothers Mohamed Q. Aminm Founder of CEP and Sundari, The Indian Goddess, an Indo-Caribbean drag performer and active member of CEP. The conversation centres Caribbean queer participation and inclusion in the New York Phagwah celebrations and what this means for transformational work on Caribbean queer issues and gender justice.
Marcus Kissoon holds a Master‘s degree in Gender and Development Studies from the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, UWI. He is a Research Officer at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies. His core work focuses on gender, child sexual abuse, and HIV as well as other forms of gender-based violence. He is an adjunct lecturer at the UWI.
Kissoon is a recipient of a National Youth Award Trinidad and Tobago (2012) and Recipient of the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work (2015). He has worked on state policies such as the National Youth Policy, National Gender Policy and the Domestic Violence Act. He contributes to civil society organizations such as the Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago, The Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV), etc.
Primnath Gooptar
The Phagwa Festival as a community event in Sangre Grande
The Phagwa Festival or Holy Festival was brought to Trinidad by the Indian indentured immigrants in 1845 when they were brought to work on the sugar estates after the abolition of slavery. After their contracts with the sugar estates were completed, they settled in lands around the estates in what became known as Indian settlement communities or simply Indian settlements. They practiced their culture, their religion,
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their festivals and passed it on from one generation to the next. Among the important festivals they kept alive in their communities most were generally held in the villages.
Sangre Grande and environs were different. The various communities around the town such as Plum Road, Plum Mitan, Biche, Tamana, Cumuto, Cunaripo, Guaico and Sangre Chiquito kept the festival alive at their locations but by the 1950s most had fallen away and by the 1970s none could be found in any of the communities. However, beginning in the late 1960s, there were sporadic gatherings of people in the town of Sangre Grande to celebrate the festival but there was no central authority organizing the festival as was seen in areas such as Aranguez and Chaguanas. For a number of years celebrants gathered at various pockets to celebrate the occasion spontaneously. It is not until 1985 that the SDMS would introduce formal public celebration into the town at the Sangre Grande Hindu school as a community celebration. The implementing organization would be the Sangre Grande phagwa committee which would undertake organizing the event from inception to the present time. An effort was made to include participants from the various villages around to make the festival a truly community Festival.
The Phagwa Festival at Sangre Grande attracts people of various races and religions to the celebration. Largely the celebration has become the event for social gatherings, a place to relax, a release valve for pent-up energies on the general coming together of the community. The community comes together even before the actual event to plan and organize the program and in several cases Chowtaal groups come together at least two months before the occasion to practice their singing in their own communities.
This paper traces the growth and development of the Phagwa Festival in the Eastern region of Sangre Grande as a community event.
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee Phagwa as a Community Festival
Mauritius can be considered as the foremost representation of a successful diasporic movement from India that has established itself in a new land and within a period of less than 200 years replicated and, in some instances, adapted socio cultural practices that have origins in India.
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While the indenture phenomenon is not unique to Mauritius as it also ended up being practiced in other places such as Fiji and the Caribbean Islands, including Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius stands out as the origin of the Great British Experiment. Having been brought here as Indentured labourers under different circumstances, the Indian immigrants in Mauritius established themselves quickly and within the new space adapted to the various social and cultural practices, among them the extremely rich Intangible Cultural Heritage.
This paper discusses how Phagwa, commonly known as Holi, brought to Mauritius by the Indentured immigrants is one of the rare festivals which were celebrated in sugar camps despite the sheer poverty and miseries that faced the Indian immigrants. It was transmitted from generation to generation within the community. Today it has taken on a national dimension where not only it is celebrated at national level by the multicultural country but holichawtal has taken the shape of a competition and is sung during the whole month of phalgun. Women also participate in it. Phagwa has safeguarded the identity of the Indian immigrants, created a sense of place for the community and has unified the nation.
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee is an experienced Researcher/ Oral historian with a demonstrated history of working in the field of research.
She is a heritage professional with many years of experience in the public sphere, firstly as a media personality. She presents daily programs on heritage and Peak Time Magazine on National radio (Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation). She was news editor and TV news presenter. Subsequently, she engaged herself in the area of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage as a researcher, working with communities, documenting their
Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and engaging with them in the creative oriented Art and Culture sphere. She has two Masters Degrees. She obtained an M.A. in Hindi from the University of Mauritius/ Mahatma Gandhi Institute and secondly a Master’s Degree in Heritage Management from the University of Mauritius. She also possesses expertise in the field of Intangible Cultural Heritage where she has not only researched, documented and managed oral histories and performances, among others but she also had solid experience working on ICH both at AGTF as well as for the country level where she has been involved in the development of three successful nomination files (Geetgawai and Sega Tambour), the nomination file for Sega Chagos in the List of ICH
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in Need for Urgent Safeguard. She has worked on the National Inventory as well as the Periodic Reporting for Mauritius’ ICH, 2017.
Avitesh Deepak Kumar, Manpreet Kaur and Kamala Lakshmi Naicker
Phagwa as an All-Inclusive Festival in Fiji
Fiji, being a secular state as enshrined in the 2013 Fijian Constitution, is known the world over for its multiculturalism and diversity in religious celebrations. Religious festivals in Fiji are celebrated with great diversity be it Eid, Phagwa, Diwali, Easter or Christmas. Believers of different faiths gather with family and friends to celebrate each festival with pride and joy. Phagwa, being one of the first major festivals of the Hindu faith in Fiji, is marked with much enthusiasm by people of different faiths.
The joie-de-vivre surrounding Phagwa comes to light with shopping, singing of Chautals, preparations in schools, and purchase of water guns and colours. These activities and preparatory work are not only confined to the worshippers of the Hindu religion but Muslims, I-taukei’s and others take keen interest in the festival.
This paper aims to highlight the inclusivity surrounding the Phagwa Festival in the multicultural sphere of Fiji and show the cultural and collective identity of Fiji through the celebration of Phagwa. It is hoped that this paper will enlighten the Indian Diaspora on the importance of having an all-inclusive festival in respective countries.
Key words: Phagwa, Chautals, Inclusivity, Identity. Bio
Avitesh Deepak Kumar
Avitesh Deepak Kumar is a high school teacher employed by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, Fiji. He teaches English in junior and senior streams. Avitesh has presented collaborative papers at numerous local and international conferences. Recently, he presented a paper at an International Girmit Conference at the University
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of Fiji. He has published research articles in peer reviewed journals, book chapters and book reviews. His research interest lies in education, languages, creative writing and gender issues. Avitesh also writes poetry and short stories which are pending publication.
Email: aviteshdeepakk@yahoo.com
Manpreet Kaur
Manpreet Kaur is a Lecturer in English at The University of Fiji. She teaches English Literature and Language courses at the undergraduate and post graduate levels. She also coordinates TESL program at Saweni Campus. Currently, Manpreet is doing her PhD in English Literature titled ‘From Borderlands of History and Imagination: An Indo-Fijian Woman’s Perspective’. She has an anthology to her credit titled Echoes of my Footprints. Manpreet has attended and presented scholarly papers at several local and international conferences. She is passionate about climate change, educational challenges, diaspora and diasporic subjects as well as creative writing. Manpreet has collaborated and published several peer reviewed papers in scholarly journals. Her passion also includes freelance writing.
Email: manpreetk@unifiji.ac.fj
Kamala Lakshmi Naicker
Dr. Kamala Lakshmi Naiker is a scholar and a dedicated teacher at the University of Fiji. She writes reviews on a range of subjects such as women’s writing, postcolonial literature and creative writing in Fiji and internationally. She inhabits a prominent place at the University of Fiji where she has served since the University’s inception and she is a respected citizen of Nadi. This study of Bharati Mukherjee is her first major book.
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Sherry Ann Singh Chair : Panel 10
Ramachandra Joshi
Pointing Pitchkari and a Pinch of Colour: Romanticizing Phagwa in Bollywood songs
Bollywood has been considered as one of the biggest entertainment industries, producing the largest numbers of movies worldwide. The present article aims at analyzing various trends of celebrating the festival Phagwa through songs. The article proposes a thematic study of selected songs in Bollywood movies that romanticize the
Dr. Sherry-Ann Singh is a lecturer of Indian Diaspora Studies and Indian History in the Department of History, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She
specializes in the social, religious, and cultural transformation among Indians in Trinidad and in the Caribbean; in Hinduism and the Ramayana tradition in the Indian Diaspora; and on the Indian indenture system. She has held fellowships at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society in Bangalore, India and at the University of Warwick, U.K. She has earned the Young Caribbean Scholar of the Year Award from the George Bell Institute of Queen’s College, Birmingham (U.K.), 2004. In addition to many published articles, her monograph The Ramayana Tradition and Socio-
Religious Change in Trinidad, 1917-1990 was published in 2012. She is currently Head of the Department of History.
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Email: joshi2ram@gmail.com
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most distinguished Indian Festival of Colours- Phagwa. As the festival deals with colour, the visual presentation in songs adds charm to the beauty of the festivity and zest and zeal to the celebration. Further, the present article proposes to throw some light on different changes in celebration of the festival in Bollywood songs. With advanced technology and cinematography, the cinema industry has captured global attention. The manifestation of the festival simultaneously unfolds Indian socio-cultural religious nuances in festival. Thus, the present study analyzes selected songs with a view to narrate historical millstones in the saga of Bollywood Phagwa songs.
Colours add colour to one’s life. So far as romance is concern, Bollywood songs have created trailblazing trends in entertainment industry in term of romantic movies. Besides, Phagwa songs have played most significant role in making Bollywood internationally recognized. The romance in Phagwa songs passes through various trends. In earlier time it was religious festivity then in middle time it was a matter of aesthetic pleasure and now in modern movies the festival has become a matter of freedom and sheer joy of celebration. Further, the present article also focuses on the use of colour, light, lyrics and musical instruments used in Phagwa songs. Conceptually, the article also corresponds to the idea of freedom, romance and fraternity irrespective of cast and creed, age and gender represented in Bollywood Phagwa songs.
Keywords: Bollywood, Phagwa Festival, Romance and Songs
Dr. Ramchandra Joshi has been working as Assistant Professor of English at Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Govt. College Sivassa, Dadara and Nagar Haveli, U. T. of India since 2012. He has also worked as lecturer for three years at National Institute of Technology (NIT) Surat, Gujarat. Apart from these, he has also worked as guest faculty at various universities in Gujarat. He did his Ph.D. at NIT Surat in the area of Indo-Caribbean Canadian Diaspora Literature. Along with this, his areas of interest also include Indo-Fijian Literature,
Literature of Gujarati Diaspora Migrants, Indian English Literature, and Film Criticism. To his credit, he has eight research articles published in an international and national journal. He has presented several papers at an international and national level seminar/conferences in India and abroad.

Mo: +919428593581 WhatsApp
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Ajay Kumar
Negative Projection of Holi (Phagwa) Festival in Hindi Cinema
Holi is a festival of love and colours and the sign of unity in Indian society. It is celebrated in almost every part of India as an integral part of Hindu culture. On this day people get to unite together forgetting all kinds of bad feelings towards each other. It falls in the month of Phalgun according to the Hindu calendar, so it is known as ‘Phagwa’. In different parts of the country it is known by different names. Hindi cinema is also a part of Indian cultural advancement. It is a form of media which promotes Indian culture by its films among the population of India and abroad so that people may be enlightened by Indian culture through glorious imagery. But Hindi cinema has always projected Holi as a day of vulgarity, titillation, revenge, overt sexuality, obscenity etc. which is taken as a serious matter for investigation. Here one question is prominent: Why would Hindi cinema want to defame this festival in the sights of Indian population across the world with cinema’s negative image? To find out the reasons of this problem about 200 people will be selected for the study to conduct the survey. The data will be analyzed by the student t-test and correlation method to explore the relation between variables and the demographic contents by the SPSS software.
Bio
Dr. Ajay Kumar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Ramanujan College, University of DelhimKalkaji, New Delhi-19
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Gargi Talapatra
Bollywood, Music and Phagwa: A Study in Cultural Representations
Celebrated over a vast expanse – in India and across the world, Phagwa is an important festival in the Indian tradition. Embodying the spirit of the carnivalesque, it serves as an environmental signifier of transition from winter to spring, marked by vibrant use of colours. Metaphorically, Phagwa also marks a celebration of the fertility associated with spring. Music is an essential component of Phagwa. Several songs of the folk genre form an integral part of Phagwa, such as phaag, hori and ullara. Consisting of descriptions of nature or portraying playful indulgence or popular mythological legends or even erotic sentiments, these songs are known to have a wide range of components. In recent times, the traditional chowtal has acquired a transnational characteristic and the songs associated have changed accordingly. A huge role in this regard has been played by the Bollywood-isation of Phagwa and its representations in popular culture. Serving as iconic cultural portrayals, especially in these times of diasporic existence, these songs have significantly altered the face of the music associated with the festival, contemporizing the spirit of Phagwa. In fact, even in these representations, there is a marked shift in perspectives discernible in the songs popularized through films such as Navrang (1959) to Silsila (1981), or the more recent Baghbaan (2003) to Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (2015). This paper proposes a study of the popular Bollywood songs associated with Phagwa to trace how they have evolved or how much they have deviated from the traditional music associated with the festival.
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Dr. Gargi Talapatra is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, The Bhawanipur Education Society College, Kolkata. She also serves as an honorary Joint Editor along with Professor Indra Nath Choudhuri for the Encyclopedia of Indian Literature (Revised Version), Sahitya Akademi. A scholar and teacher of English Literature, Dr Talapatra was awarded the gold medal for securing the first position in first class in M.A. English (2007) by the University of Calcutta. She received a Research Associateship from the Indian Institute of
Advanced Studies, Shimla in 2016. Her areas of interest include Indian literatures, cultural studies, gender studies and translation studies.
Published in various academic journals of repute, some of her recent academic publications include: ‘The Tempest: Through the lens of Natya Shastra’ – an article published in Kalakalpa, IGNCA Journal of Arts (UGC enlisted), Volume IV Number 1, Guru Purnima 2019 and ‘William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury’ – an article published in a book entitled The American Novel from Hawthorne to Heller: Cultural Contexts and Critical Perspectives by MacMillan Publishers India Pvt Ltd, 2020. Dr. Talapatra has also been variously published as a translator, one of her major works being the translated series called Clean Jungle Tales, published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi in 2017. She attended and participated in a three-day National translation Workshop from 9th-12th August 2019 at Agartala, organized by Sahitya Akademi. Also a creative writer, Dr. Talapatra’s first collection of poems entitled Pebbles Downstream was published in 2018.
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Devika Misra
Phagwa in Film: Between Freedom of Expression and Climactic Action
Depictions of the Phagwa Festival in Indian film are as old as the film industry in India itself, drawing from the folk traditions of dance and music associated with the festival in practice. Whether the setting was rural as in Mother India or highly urbane, like the more recent film Yeh Jawani hai Deewani, Phagwa functions as a moment of joyful celebration and escape, the letting down of barriers among protagonists, both of gender and religion and most importantly, often as a celebration of folk music, of cultural traditions and practices associated with the festival and most importantly, of joyful comradery fostered between people.
These depictions have often also functioned as an important plot device, for example in films like Sholey, where the playful banter of Phagwa is disrupted by the violence of Gabbar Singh’s raid on the village, the humanity of celebration working to underscore the inhumanity of both the violence perpetrated as well as that of the villain. In other films, like Darr, depictions of the festival have also been used to underline the deep gender divide in celebrating societies. The movement from folk music in songs like ‘Ja re hat natkhat’ to popular versions of Hinglish blends like ‘Do me a favour, let’s play Holi’ are also an important lens to understand the alterations in the fabric of Indian society.
This paper will attempt to study popular depictions of Phagwa in Indian films to delineate the motivations these depictions serve in the context of the film, the social messaging attached to these depictions and finally, the movement in these depictions and their ability to better encapsulate changing social and cultural realities.
Bio
Devika Misra is a doctoral candidate in Latin American Studies at the Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University and an Assistant Professor at the School for Life, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, India.
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Her thesis looks at the intricacies of integration efforts in Latin America.
Kalpana Hiralal
Chair: Panel 11
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Kalpana Hiralal is a professor of History in the School of Social Sciences at Howard College at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate level modules on global history, women, gender and politics. Her PhD dissertation focuses on the South Asian Diaspora to Africa in the context of settlement, trade and identity formation. A South African NRF rated researcher, her two key areas of interest -Gender and the South Asian Diaspora and Women in the Anti-apartheid Struggle. Her most recent publications are :co-author of Pioneers of Satyagraha Indian South African Defy Racist Laws1907-1914 (Navajivan 2017) and co- author of Gender and Mobility: Borders, Bodies and Boundaries, Palgrave.
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Shivannand Maharaj
The songs of the Phagwa Festival (Chowtaal, Ulaara, Filmi, Pichakaree and others)
The songs surrounding the Phagwa Festival have and continue to be one of the greatest attractions of this global celebration. According to the Rig Veda – Gaayan (Song), Vaadya (instruments) and Nritya (dance) are all part of the generic term Sangeet (music). It is therefore rather interesting that Phagwa (Holi) incorporates all of these elements into one festival. A musical analysis into Phagwa shows that it encapsulates the music genres of folk, pop and classical and is built upon many musical forms such as Chowtaal, jhumar, ulhaara, dhrupad, dhamaar, hori, kajri, basant, film songs, pichikaari songs and many more – which have significantly enriched the festival’s musical landscape. These songs tell many stories relating to the many themes within the Phagwa celebrations. The use of multiple raagas, taalas, musical instruments, rasas, dances and poetry brings together a unique amalgamation of musical brilliance.
This paper will focus on the many musical forms within Phagwa, their structure, musicality, improvisations and performance. The musical changes, which have been taking place in relation to Phagwa, as well as the use of appropriate technology in today’s modern society, will also be explored. The songs of Phagwa have not only become a source of joy and fulfillment for artistes but have also created a demand for new and dynamic trends in the Entertainment Industry. Phagwa has a striking connection with all generations of our national community. The competitive spirit on stage and within the audience facilitates a healthy environment for the preservation and promotion of the Songs of Phagwa.
Shivannand Maharaj has been a music educator and entertainer in the field of Indian Music for the past twenty- five (25) years. He has taught Indian Classical Music and Ethnomusicology at the Academy for the Performing Arts at UTT since 2014 as a Senior Instructor and is currently a Music Lecturer at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts, UWI, St. Augustine. He is also the Director of the Indian Classical Ensemble at UWI. Shivannand is the recipient of the Hummingbird Gold Medal (2013) for Music
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Education and plays several instruments including the tabla, harmonium, violin, steelpan and sarangi.
Shivannand Maharaj has been teaching Indian music for over twenty (20) years and has given many lecture demonstrations in this field not only at our local Universities, but also at the Universities of New Delhi, Baroda and Panjab in India. Over the past decades, Shivannand Maharaj has always been intrigued by the widespread use of the Tabla instrument in many Genres – particularly in World Music. Specifically, he has been involved in looking at the traditional method by which Indian Classical Music is taught in comparison to non-traditional means towards creating more efficiency, especially in Tabla education. He believes in the philosophy that a significant inclusion of modern technology will certainly enhance the study of Indian Classical Music worldwide.
Annapurna Devi Pandey
The Feast of Love revisited: The impact of Bollywood Holi Songs on the Indian Diaspora in the U.S.A.
The celebration of Holi as a yearly festival varies widely across different regions of India but is known as a time of celebration of parity. It is focused on the Indian social system not in terms of its stratification in the name of caste, gender, class etc., rather a social response to overcome the caste, gender and class disparities and give the marginal of the society a day or two to come out with whatever they hold against the privileged and the privileged would take it as a necessary upshot of Order-Making. During this festival, breaking of the norm and the ranking is accepted. According to Linda Hess, senior lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford, “Holi is a festival of exuberance,” and “It is the expression of our wilder nature.”
In his famous article “The Feast of Love,” an account of his experience in India during Holi, anthropologist McKim Marriott wrote, “The dramatic balancing of Holi–the world destruction and world renewal, the world pollution followed by world purification– occurs not only on the abstract level of structural principles but also in the person of each participant.”
In this paper, I will discuss the significance of Holi both at the individual and social level in India and Indian Diaspora. I will select a few Bollywood songs namely, ‘Aaj Na Chhodenge’ (Kati Patang- 1970) ‘ Holi Ke Din’ (Sholay- 1975)’Rang Barse’ (Silsila-
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1981)’Ang Se Ang Lagana’ (Darr- 1993)’Soni Soni’ (Mohabbatein- 2000) ‘Holi Khele Raghuveera’ (Baghban- 2003)’Do Me A Favour, Let’s Play Holi’ (Waqt – The Race Against Time – 2005)’Dekho Aayi Re Holi’ (Mangal Pandey- 2005)’Balam Pichkari’ (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani- 2013)’Badri Ki Dulhania’ (Badrinath Ki Dulhania- 2017) among others and will discuss what impact these songs have in the performance of Holi among the Indian Diaspora in the U.S.A.
Annapurna Devi Pandey is a Cultural Anthropologist, who teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Pandey holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and was a Post-doctoral fellow in Social Anthropology at Cambridge, U.K. Her current research interests are diaspora studies, South Asian religion, and immigrant women’s identity making in the Diaspora in California. She is the author of numerous essays, edited books on Indian Women’s activism, agency, entrepreneurship and empowerment in India and Indian Diaspora. Dr. Pandey just completed a senior Fulbright U.S. Scholarship (2017- 2018) working in Odisha, India. She is an accomplished filmmaker (Homeland in the
Heart; The Myth of Buddha’s Birthplace (with Prof. James Freeman) and Road to Zuni. Her most recent film, Road to Zuni has already been nominated to a dozen international film festivals in 2018 – 2019 and has received several national and international awards.
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Aneela Bhagwat Chair :Panel 12
Aneela Bhagwat has been involved in Indian culture from birth, as a member of the Hindu Prachar Kendra, a dynamic Hindu organization which sought to highlight a local, contextual understanding of Hindu culture and practices, one that was deeply rooted to the Trinidadian experience.
She is the holder of a B.Sc. in Government
(UWI), an M.A. in South Asian Area Studies (SOAS) and MPhil in Sociology (JNU). Her research interests includes the intersection of post colonial studies, cultural resistance and persistence, Indian Diaspora, Women and
Gender and transnationalism.
She has been involved in cultural voluntary work as a member of the Hindu Students’ Council of Trinidad and Tobago (HSCTT), where she focused on working in secondary schools, especially across the central region of Trinidad, encouraging students to cultivate a sense of pride in Hindu identity. She is a member of the National Council of Indian Culture’s (NCIC) Youth Group Committee and has participated in organizing various workshops and panels as well as the annual Folk Theatre programme for the NCIC’s flagship event: Divali Nagar. She is currently co-director, along with her husband Arvind Singh, of the Centre for Indic Studies, an organization which seeks to highlight the diversity of Indian knowledge systems and their applicability to present day issues.
She is the mother of two children and has chosen to be a Stay at Home Mom to care and nurture them.
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Maggie Griffith Williams
“I am Trini, I am Indian, I am Hindu”: Diaspora identity and creating culture through pichakaree
A few days before Phagwa 2019, a Hindu leader described her identity: “I am three parts – I am Trini, I am Indian, I am Hindu. I am equally patriotic. I have the same love and reverence for the land, but I am Indian…I am also Hindu, that’s my identity.” She explained that negotiating this trio of identities is a theme often appearing in pichakarees, a local song form performed during Phagwa in Trinidad. Named after the instrument used to spray abeer, pichakaree songs were envisioned as a metaphor for ingesting from one’s locality and spraying it out to impress upon the audience’s minds with constructive messages. Based on interviews with pichakaree artists and organizers, as well as local intellectuals and scholars, I present preliminary analysis of pichakaree’s value for community members, the artform’s contributions to national culture, and participants’ hopes and recommendations for its future.
Pichakaree is meaningful for interview participants as an important artistic outlet to give voice to and claim space for Indo-Trinidadian experiences. Many participants spoke of feeling that Indo-Trinidadian cultural practices do not have enough space within the wider national culture. Pichakaaree is seen as one answer to this marginalization. It is an artform that necessarily gives voice to this trio of identities – Trini, Indian, and Hindu. Framed by Hall’s (1990) concept of diaspora identity, I show how pichakaree is a cultural creation that celebrates difference and heterogeneity while boldly claiming the right to national space and pushing society to broaden notions of national culture.
References
Hall, Stuart. “Cultural identity and diaspora.” Identity: Community, culture, difference, edited by Jonathan Rutherford, Lawrence & Wishart, 1990, pp. 222-237.
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Geeta Vahini Pichakaaree – A Community Voice
Pichakaaree is a song genre innovated for the Kendra Phagwa Festival three decades ago. It is composed in vernacular English with creative use of ancestral language, mainly Bhojpuri and Hindi words and phrases. Pichakaaree celebrates Phagwa traditions but it also brings to centre stage a range of topics through its brave social commentary and conscious lyrical content.
Identity, equality, culture, heritage, politics and enlightened citizenship are some of the many issues that have been addressed in the forum. In its infancy years Pichakaaree faced hostility from several quarters but this has diminished as the intention and value of the art form became more understood and accepted.
This paper will present the Kendra Phagwa Festival Committee’s perspective on the emergence of Pichakaaree as a crucial community voice. Excerpts and samples of the genre will be presented to demonstrate how composers and singers, who are mostly lay persons, have been able to highlight and effectively comment on issues affecting them, not just at the community level but at national level as well.
Geeta Vahini is a full time volunteer community worker. She is President of the Hindu Prachaar Kendra, a position she took up in 2008 after completing a four year scholarship in Hindu Studies at Suddhananda Ashram, Chennai, and Sankat Mochan Foundation, Varanasi, India. Geetaji’s life is one of teaching and service.
She teaches Hindu Philosophy, Heritage and
Practice through regular classes, courses and satsangs at the Hindu Prachaar Kendra. In 1990 she became the first woman in
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Trinidad to conduct a seven nights Ramayan Yajna and she also serves as a purohitaa – presiding over Hindu rituals.
Geetaji is a poet and two time Pichakaaree Champion.
Primnath Gooptar
Children’s Phagwa in Trinidad: passing on the tradition to the next generation
One of the most important functions of a society is to pass on its traditions and culture from one generation to the next. Among the East Indians in Trinidad, and particularly the Hindus, the festivals formed an important aspect of culture. The Phagwa Festival was one of those festivals.
In the early days of its celebration in Trinidad which is mainly held within the Indian settlement communities in villages children participated in the festival with their parents and other elders and so they learnt the art of the Phagwa Festival and the use of the abir and coloured powder in the festival. However, for various reasons that did not translate into the transmission of the culture from one generation to the next as was expected since the local village celebrations fell away by the 1950s and was replaced with a few public communal celebrations. By the 1970s most of those public celebrations also disappeared and there were just two North Trinidad and none in the southern part of the country where the majority of East Indians live. In mid 1970s the Hindu Jawaan Sangha began the process of the revival of the Phagwa Festival in the southern part of the country and by the 1980s had joined forces with the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha to revive the festival throughout the country. As part of that revival effort, and to ensure the transmission of the culture from one generation to the next, a special children’s phagwa event was created in 1981 by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha at which free abir was distributed to all children and free meals were distributed to all attendees. In addition, all SDMS schools were mandated to have children’s phagwa celebrations at their locations just before the national event. Those celebrations ensured the participation of children in the festival throughout the country.
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This paper traces the development of this important children’s Phagwa Festival and its role in the revival of Phagwa Festival in Trinidad.
Visham Bhimull
The Language and lyrical content of Hori Geet
Indentured labourers hailed from mostly the Bhojpuri speaking belt in India during the period 1845-1917. Thus, many of the folk song traditions that were transplanted were composed in the Hindustani standard not of today’s era, Khari Boli, but of standard vernaculars that prevailed in that era at the time.
35% were in Braj Bhasha, 35% were in Awadhi and 30% were in Bhojpuri. Most of the singers spoke in Caribbean English Creole and remembered expressions from one of the Bhojpuri dialects that came from India.
This paper looks at 30 Hori geets or songs of springtime and analyzes them based on their grammar, syntax, semantics and vocabulary to categorize them into which Indo- Aryan language they belonged.
The content of the songs was either religious or social commentary.
Dr. Visham Bhimullis a Primary Care Physician MBBS (UWI)with a Diploma in Family Medicine (UWI); MPH Candidate (UWI); Executive member, NCIC. He is culturally very active and is involved with research work in Language as an element of cultural identity, a social determinant of health.
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Kirtie Algoe & Nitin Jagbandhan
Phagwa in Suriname: a reflection on the decision making as a national holiday & the changing celebration of the festival
National holidays contribute to the development of a nation. Phagwa is the first Hindu national holiday in Suriname, acknowledged 40 years ago. This paper reflects on how it influenced the evolution of the culturally diverse nation. The aim is to obtain a deeper understanding of the dynamics in the relationship between religious festivals and the discourses about developing a nation. We first address the decision-making of Phagwa as a national holiday and the link with the nature of its celebration at that time. The way communities celebrate this festival now differs in various regards compared to the 1970s. A major change is the introduction of modern parties in public areas characterized by popular music, participation of many cultural groups, playing with powder and colors, and consumption of various types of food and beverages. We look at how such changes affect the nation, in particular the discourses and the perceptions of Hindu and other religious groups. This is important as in the past few years the changed nature of Phagwa has often drawn national attention as particular Hindu groups argue that that the increasing modern outlook of the festival is pushing the religious essence of Phagwa to the background, raising typical questions about modernity and authenticity. How do such changes relate to views on developing a nation with a significant religious diversity? In this paper we critically reflect on this question.
Keywords: Phagwa, national holidays, celebration, Suriname
Kirtie Algoe
Kirtie Algoe (1984) holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology (2007), a master’s degree in Development and Policy (2011), and a PhD degree in Social Sciences (2017). She is a researcher at the Institute of Graduate Studies and Research of the Anton de Kom University of Suriname. Her publications are mainly on religious diversity, government policies, and comparative studies. Now she works on qualitative methodology, gender and sports. She combines her academic work with sports; she practices martial art for over 18 years and is an active board member of the Suriname Olympic Committee.
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Nitin Jagbandhan
Nitin Jagbandhan (1981) is a Hindu priest at the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Suriname and is the secretary of the Priest Council. He has a college degree specialized in meteorology. He has also completed Hindi education, the accredited Hindu priest training by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, and the training as a marriage officer. He has participated in many conferences. Nitin lectures Hindi at schools of the Hindi Parishad Institute and spiritual nurturing at a particular prison department. He also regularly delivers guest lectures about Hinduism at the teacher’s training.
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YOUTH ROUNDTABLE
KAL, AAJ AUR KAL (Yesterday, today and Tomorrow) Youth Perspectives for Phagwa in the Diaspora
Visham Bhimull Chair :Panel 6
Praem Narine Rambharak (Satesh)
Masters Candidate (entrepreneurship/SME’s-University of the West Indies)
Microsoft Certified CompTIA A+ Certified
Dip in Motor Vehicle engineering-City and Guilds of London Institute
National Kaaryavaha (General Secretary) of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (Hindus for Selfless Service-HSS Guyana, 2011-present), a Swayamsevak for 25 years.
Entrepreneur /I.T Consultant
• -Founder and Managing Partner -Computer Resources • -Founder-Eco Scape
Founding member of
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• Guyanese of Indian Ancestry Association (GIAA)
• Tassa Gurus (Advocating for Guyana Indian Tassa Association-GITA)
• Saffron Lions (Hindu Sports: Hanuman Trophy, Festival: Chowtaal/singing).
Roudraksh Jankee
Roudraksh@gmail.com
Roudraksh holds a degree in English B.A (HONS.). She is
• a fashion associate at Walmart
• House Council president for War Memorial House
• radio jockey for Axe Radio
Her extra-curricular school activities
• Choreographed a song and starred in a short Mauritian movie titled ‘Bibelot’ (2018)
• Head of literary club at High School, which was aimed at helping students with creative
expression through art. (2017-2018)
Ms. Anjali Tiwari
anjali.tiwari1992@yahoo.com;
Ms. Anjali Tiwari is a research scholar, enrolled in the Department of Western History, at University of Lucknow under the guidance of Dr. Archana Tewari (Year of enrolment March 2019). Her topic of research is ‘’Indentured Women from Awadh to Jamaica 1845-1919”. Her areas of interest are Indian foreign policy, diaspora and gender issues.
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Aayushee Garg
Daveanan Ramsaran
Daveanan Ramsaran is 23 years old and has been involved in Hindu and community work though the Hindu Prachar Kendra for almost his entire life. He holds a Law Degree from the University of the West Indies and is currently a student of the Hugh Wooding Law School where he is completing his last leg of training to become an Attorney at Law. Being an active member of the Hindu Prachar Kendra he has engaged himself in all of their activities which notable include their yearly production of Baal Ramdilla and their grand Phagwa Festival. Looking towards the future he, wants to ensure the sustainability of these cultural artforms for generations to come.
Aayushee Garg – Photo & Biography Aayushee Garg is a passionate teacher and creative writer currently pursuing her PhD from the Department of English and Modern European Languages at the University of Lucknow. Her poems have been published in journals and magazines like Muse India, The Criterion, The Literary
Herald, Pratilipi, Quill’s Will, Rhetorica Quarterly and Ashvamegh. She has also published research articles across various peer- reviewed journals and almost a dozen feature stories for The Times of India daily. Her creative blog can be found here: https://anartcolossus.wordpress.com
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Nisha Ramracha
Nisha Ramracha is a classical archaeologist from New York City, originally from Trinidad and Tobago with an A.S. in Science, a B.A. in Classical Archaeology/Religion, minors in Latin/Greek/German/. Nisha also holds an M.A. in the Archaeology of the Classical/Late Antiquity/Islamic Worlds with studies in Mayan Archaeology, Medieval Studies, Islamic Art and Architecture, and Maritime
Archaeology (completed at New York University). She did her Master’s Thesis on an analysis of the gold and silver coinage of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. Her research concentrates on Alexander the Great, ancient monuments, military strategy and ancient Greek coinage.
Shiva Daniel
Shiva is President of the Sangre Grande Phagwa Committee, Trinidad. He is actively involved in promoting Culture and religion in his community.
Sejal Bhojwani
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KAL AAJ AUR KAL
Phagwa in the different states in India
Archana Tewari Chair: Panel 7
Dr. Archana Tewari is Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Western History. Her area of specialization is Old Indian Diaspora. Her Ph.D. thesis is on Indian emigration to Trinidad. Her research paper titled “Indian Indentured Women in the Caribbeans and the Role Model of Ramayana’s Sita: An Unequal Metaphor” was published by Springer in 2018. A number of research scholars are working under her on different aspects of Indian Diaspora ranging from the role of Indian National Congress in the abolition of Indian Indentured labour to the policy of Indian government towards the Indian Diaspora.
Anjali Singh
Dr.Anjali Singh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur, India. She holds a
Ph.D. in English from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. Her research was on Indenture Literature from Fiji and the Caribbean, and her areas of interest include Indenture Literature, Postcolonial Literature, Women’s Writing, and Gender and Queer Studies. She has published several papers in reputed journals and travelled widely, presenting her research papers in Australia and Fiji.
Email: anjalinsingh@gmail.com
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Gargi Bhattacharya
Gargi Bhattacharya (b.1976) is working as an assistant professor in the Department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, Visva-Bharati (A Central University), Santiniketan, West Bengal, India for the last seventeen years. She did her M.A., MPhil and Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta. Her research interest area includes Ancient Indian Scriptures, Indian Philosophy, Manuscriptology, Translation Studies, and Cultural Studies. She is trained in deciphering different ancient and medieval Indian scripts. More than twenty research papers of her have been published in various journals and anthologies. A Paper entitled ‘Formation of Hindu Law through Translation in the Rule of British East India Company’ is published from Bloomsbury in 2019. She translated the minor Upanisads into Bengali, published by the Ramakrishna
Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, Kolkata, in 2015. Her upcoming book will be on the translations of Dara Shukoh. She is now enjoying the associateship of UGC-IUC in the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. She remained in the chair of Vice-Principal of Bhasha- Bhavana (Institute of Language, Literature and Culture), Visva-Bharati, for the last three and half years.
Email: visva2003@gmail.com
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Shruti Srivastava
Dr. Shruti Srivastava is currently serving as a senior assistant professor in English at D.A-V. Degree College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. She did her Doctorate in English from D.D.U. Gorakhpur University, Gorakhpur on topic Spiritual Quest in Emily Dickinson. Her primary areas of research are Indian Bhakti Poetry, Transcendental Literature, and Mystic Poetry, Romantic Poetry etc. She has translated several poems of Emily Dickinson into Hindi, which reflects her mastery of both languages. She has been awarded a grant by U.G.C. New Delhi for a Minor Research Project on topic East and West Confluence: A Comparative Study of Transcendentalism and
Indian Bhakti Movement. She also has good experience of teaching papers like Human Values & Professional Ethics, Professional Communication etc. Her areas of interest are not limited to the field of academics only; she finds her solace in cultural engagements like kathak dance, classical music,and theatre.
Email: shruti.english11@gmail.com
Amba Pande
Biography: Amba Pande is associated with the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She received her PhD from Centre for Southeast Asia and South West Pacific Studies, School of International Studies, JNU.
Her research interests include
Indian Diaspora, International migration,
Transnationalism and Indo-Pacific. She has also been a
visiting faculty/scholar at the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), University of
South Pacific (Fiji), Otego University (New Zealand). Dr Pande is a prolific writer and has
many publications to her credit in national and international journals. She has been
invited to give independent lectures, present papers, be discussant and Chair several
national and international seminars and conferences.
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Amita Esther David
.Amita Esther David, Ph. D., was born and brought up in Lucknow – the city of Nawabs. She has been teaching History to students at Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow, for the past two decades. Her interest in Oral History began as a student, with two dissertations carried out at the B A and M. Ed. levels, as case studies dealing with women empowerment, presented at conferences and later published. She has recently participated in The People Place Project research initiative focusing on stories of contemporary Lucknow, and her story ‘Chess – A Blueprint for Life’ was published in the book titled People Called Lucknow by Penguin- Random House, India.
Email: aedavid.itc@gmail.com
Sanobar Haider
Dr Sanobar Haider is currently working as Assistant Professor and Head , Department of History MBP Government P.G. College, Lucknow. She is an avid Lucknowite with a keen interest in the teaching of the History of India, a subject in which she has a Doctorate. The author has scripted several research papers which have since been published in various national and international journals. The author’s research topic for her Ph.D., “Law and Justice in the United Provinces, 1877- 1937,” provided her an insight into the
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erstwhile kingdom of Oudh, immersing her deeply into the exploration of the fabled city of Lucknow.
Having excelled in academics at all levels she has to her credit a number of academic accomplishments. Besides excelling in various competitive examinations, the author has to her credit the founding of the Avadh Girls Degree College Alumnae Association, which saw the light of the day due to her initiative and dynamism.
The author has also had keen leanings towards doing research related to the history and culture of Awadh. The majestic monuments of Lucknow and the rich heritage of this erstwhile kingdom holds a treasure trove of information and a legacy which needs protection and care she believes. Two books have also been authored by Dr Haider. The author has been appointed as a member of the National Archives Grants Commission by the Ministry of Culture, GOI. She is also a gold medalist in law.
Ms. Sneha Sarkar
sarkar.sneha609@gmail.com
Ms Sneha Sarkar passed Post Graduation Exams in English Literature in the year 2020 from D.A.V. College, Kanpur. Presently a Research Scholar with Transcendental Bengali Literature as a genre of interest.
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Ghan Shyam
Prof. Ghan Shyam earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He joined Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, in 1998 and is currently a full professor in the Department of History, Faculty of Social Sciences. Dr. Ghan Shyam had been Fulbright Fellow at New York University twice: in 2005 as a short-term fellow to study US Civilization, and for the 2016-17 academic session as a Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Scholar to teach and conduct research on the topic “In the Land of Opportunity: A Comparative Study of Indo-Caribbean and Indian Immigrants in New York City since 1965”. He has taught courses on History of Modern Europe, American History, and History of the Indian Diaspora, among others. Through his teaching, he encourages his students to broaden
their understanding of other countries and societies and develop a critical bent of mind.
Ranjana Krishna
Dr. Ranjana Krishna is Associate Professor and Head, Department of English. She teaches American and British Literature at Avadh Girls’ P.G. College, University of Lucknow. She is a Fellow Associate at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, HP. Currently, she is working in the field of translation studies. Her research areas include cultural studies, gender studies and women’s studies. She has edited books and written book reviews for several newspapers and
literary journals. She has published several research papers in national and journals.
drkrishnaagdc@gmail.com
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Ujjwal Rabidas –
Assistant Professor – III, Amity Institute of Social Sciences, Amity University, India.
Gargi Talapatra
Dr. Gargi Talapatra is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, The Bhawanipur Education Society College, Kolkata. She also serves as an honorary Joint Editor along with Professor Indra Nath Choudhuri for the Encyclopedia of Indian Literature (Revised Version), Sahitya Akademi. A scholar and teacher of English Literature, Dr Talapatra was awarded the gold medal for securing the first position in first class in M.A. English (2007) by the University of Calcutta. She received a Research Associateship from the Indian Institute of
Advanced Studies, Shimla in 2016. Her areas of interest include Indian literatures, cultural studies, gender studies and translation studies.
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Kiran S N (Karnataka)
Farzana Gounder and Arvind Singh Chairs: Panel 13
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Farzana Gounder is a linguist and Deputy Head of School (Research) at IPU New Zealand Tertiary Institute. Dr Gounder’s research interests draw on her indenture heritage and she has extensively examined oral narratives of indenture and their role in collective memory formation. Her current research lies at the intersection of indenture studies and the sociology of health. She is the author of Indentured Identities: Resistance and Accommodation in Plantation-Era Fiji (2011), and co-editor of the forthcoming volumes Women, Gender and the Legacy of Slavery and
Indenture and Social Aspects of Health, Medicine and Diseases.
Arvind Singh
Dr. Arvind Singh is a Lecturer in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of the West Indies where he conducts research in AI applications in industry, optimization and condition-based monitoring of power systems. He is also the founder of the Centre for Indic Studies, Trinidad and Tobago where he conducts classes and lectures on Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy and a member of the National Council of Indian Culture.
Ravindra Dev (Ravi Dev)
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Ravindra Dev, BSc Econ’s; JD (Juris Doctor -US) Member of NY Bar. Corporate Exec NYC 1972-1992
Founding Member of Indo Caribbean Federation (1984 NY), GOPIO (Co Chair: 1989 Conference on Political Participation of PIO’s).
Founding Member of Jaguar Committee for Democracy (1988 NY and GY)
Karyavaha HSS 1996-2000 Leader of ROAR: MP 2001-2006
Sanghachalak HSS 2011- Present
Media Consultant: 2013 to present : Times Media Group – Newspaper, TV, Radio, Social Media)
Dewkoemaar Sewgobind
Dewkoemaar Born on the 16-07-68 in a District name Nickerie in the West Coast of Suriname. Began duties as a Sanatan-dharma Pandit at the age of 18.
Specialized in pravachan (reading)and porohiti (rituals leadership) and astrological readings
He has read and preached a few Purana’s as well Gita and Ramayana.
Speaks Dutch, Hindi and English
Music is his passion and hubby.
During the last two years he has been teaching Hinduism in the high school
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Sanobar Haider
Dr Sanobar Haider is currently working as Assistant Professor and Head , Department of History MBP Government P.G. College, Lucknow. She is an avid Lucknowite with a keen interest in the teaching of the History of India, a subject in which she has a Doctorate. The author has scripted several research papers which have since been published in various national and international journals. The author’s research topic for her Ph.D., “Law and Justice in the United Provinces, 1877- 1937,” provided her an insight into the
erstwhile kingdom of Oudh, immersing her deeply into the exploration of the fabled city of Lucknow.
Ravindranath Maharaj (Raviji)
Ravindra Nath Maharaj, known as Raviji, returned from India in 1983 and in 1984 he started activities at Longdenville Mandir where he had been serving before he had left for India. He shaped the mandir as a community centre for worship, learning, performing arts, community care, youth development and fraternity. The mandir attracted people from all over the country and influenced the development of other Mandirs.
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Among his many accomplishments he has played the role of founder/organizer of a host of annual events in the East Indian community. He has also been a chairman and member of notable institutions and organizations ranging from a children’s home to the Carifesta Organizing Committee.
Raviji is a recipient of the Hummingbird Silver Medal, the Government of India Award for Community Service at the International Conference on Hindi, London, a Rotary Award and Divali Nagar Award for community service and numerous other awards for his service in the community both locally and internationally.
Satish Rai
Dr Satish Rai is Sydney based academic, film/tv producer, journalist and community development worker. He was born in Fiji where he received his primary, secondary and part of his tertiary education (University of South Pacific & Fiji School of Medicine. He migrated to U.K. in 1980 and to Australia in
1995. Dr Rai’s had made a film based on his research – In Exile at Home – A Fiji Indian Story.
Dr Rai is now working on a feature film on the abolition of Girmit as well as international events to mark the 100th anniversary of the abolition of the Indian indenture system (Girmit)
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Tara Singh
Dr. Tara Singh did his undergraduate study at the University of Guyana (UG) and graduate studies at University of Wales (Cardiff). He has had post-doctoral attachments at London University School of Oriental Studies and Farleigh Dickson University, New Jersey. He was a Senior Commonwealth Research Scholar as well as a Fullbright Scholar. He taught at UG in capacity of Senior Lecturer and then migrated to the US with family. He worked with city government and led two
NGOs, HSFC and NYGMHM. Humanitarian work is his passion. He writes regularly for newspapers in Guyana and in New York.
Manpreet Kaur
Manpreet Kaur is a Lecturer in English at The University of Fiji. She teaches English Literature and Language courses at the undergraduate and post graduate levels. She also coordinates TESL program at Saweni Campus. Currently, Manpreet is doing her PhD in English Literature titled ‘From Borderlands of History and Imagination: An Indo-Fijian Woman’s Perspective’. She has an anthology to her credit titled Echoes of my Footprints. Manpreet has attended and presented scholarly papers at several local and international conferences. She is passionate about climate change, educational challenges, diaspora and diasporic subjects as well as creative writing. Manpreet has collaborated and published several peer reviewed papers in scholarly journals. Her passion also includes freelance writing.
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Email: manpreetk@unifiji.ac.fj
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee
Kiran Chuttoo-Jankee is an experienced Researcher/ Oral historian with a demonstrated history of working in the field of research.
She is a heritage professional with many years of experience in the public sphere, firstly as a media personality. She presents daily programs on heritage and Peak Time Magazine on National radio (Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation). She was news editor and TV news presenter. Subsequently, she engaged herself in the area of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage as a researcher, working with communities, documenting their Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and engaging with them in the creative oriented Art and Culture sphere. She has two Masters Degrees.
Kalpana Hiralal
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Kalpana Hiralal is a professor of History in the School of Social Sciences at Howard College at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate level modules on global history, women, gender and politics. Her PhD dissertation focuses on the South Asian Diaspora to Africa in the context of settlement, trade and identity formation. A South African NRF rated researcher, her two key areas of interest -Gender and the South Asian Diaspora and Women in the Anti-apartheid Struggle. Her most recent publications are :co-author of Pioneers of Satyagraha Indian South African Defy Racist Laws1907-1914 (Navajivan 2017) and co-author of Gender and Mobility: Borders, Bodies and Boundaries, Palgrave.
Winston Tolan
Dr Winston Tolan MBBS OD JP, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He attended Kingston College, UWI ,Mona, and Sawawai Mansingh Medical College ,Jaipur, Rajasthan India. On his return in
1983, he joined the Mandeville Regional Hospital Jamaica, working for 32 years, mainly in the Outpatient/Accident &Emergency Department. Since retirement. He has continued to work for another 5 years up to 2020. Growing up in a Hindu background ,he has been actively involved in all the major festivals and Indian Cultural Activities. One of the founding members of Prema Satsangh of Jamaica, being President for over 10 years ,he has been the Cultural coordinator of Indian Arrival Day program since 2000. Won awards in India for Hindi songs ,one of the main vocalist of Hindi, filmi, traditional songs in Jamaica and, a strong advocate and
singer of Chowtaal songs since the late 70s. Producer, Announcer of Indian Talent on Parade for !8 years, a programme on National radio Coordinator, Producer and Announcer on the Radio programme Indian Talent on Parade, a one hour
programme on Power 106 ,a national station ,going for 18 years .A regular Participant at Divali Nagar for 20 years continuously as a singer ,judge and head of Jamaican delegation. Honoured by the Jamaican Government with the National Honour of Order of Distinction in October 2008, for Outstanding services to Medicine , and Outstanding
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Services in the promotion of Indian Culture. Recipient of Hind Rattan, 2009, Bharat Gaurav Award, Glory of India Award and much more. A Justice of the Peace since 2009. Currently a Cultural Activist and Social Worker ,heading the Ramdai and Arthur Tolan Foundationl
Jai Sears (Grenada)
Sadhana Mohan (Suriname)
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By Caribbean Hindustani

Welcome to Caribbean Hindustani, a page dedicated to the promotion of the unique cultural identity of the descendents of Indian indentured laborers in the Caribbean. Caribbean Hindustani is the designation for any aspect of the culture of these descendents, be it; food, music, song & dance, dress, artisan skill, religion, philosophy and language. We hope that we create a global environment for the fostering and promotion of these. Please feel free to browse, comment and post relevant information that will help achieve our mission and realize our vision.

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