BY JON CRONIN
Although the contentious planning of the Phagwah parade has led to civil suit between separate planning committees, this year a joint Parade under the sponsorship of the founders Arya Spritual Center along with The Federation of Hindu Mandirs has the full support from the Hindu Parades and Festivals Committee.
The 29th Annual Phagwah Parade will take place at noon on Sunday March 12, 2017 and start at the corner of 133rd Street and Liberty Avenue . It will continue to the Phil Rizzuto Park (formerly Smokey Oval Park), Richmond Hill, where they have scheduled cultural events for the afternoon.
Two years ago, both committees, the Federation of Hindu Mandirs and the Hindu Parades And Festivials C’Tee Inc. filed for permits to run the parade. Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, then commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, told them to settle their differences or there would be no parade. The argument went to civil court two years ago, as it did last year. In 2015, the civil suit was not settled and there was no parade that year.
Plans for the parade are now underway. The NYPD has approved the joint permit application submitted by the Federation of Hindu Mandirs, Inc. (FOHM) and The Arya Spiritual Center (ASC).The Hindu Parades & Festivals Committee Inc. reports that they are fully supportive of the Parade, and members from all three organizations have formed the Organizing Committee for Phagwah Parade 2017.
Herman Singh, co-chair of the Phagwah Parade of New York Inc., said the committees have moved past their differences. He looks to the future and expanding the parade. Singh said last year they had only 25 floats but this year they hope to have more.
Every year each float is usually that of a local mandir participating in the parade, but this year they are looking to be more aggressive about how inclusive the parade is. They are hoping to get floats representing local businesses and organizations, Singh said.
He said, everyone is welcome, “They don’t have to be a part of the community.”
Richmond Hill is home to the largest Indo-Caribbean (Indians from Guyana, Trinidad & Suriname) community in the United States.
Singh wrote in a statement on behalf of the Phagwah Parade of New York Inc. “We are proud to be able to contribute to the cultural diversity of the great City of New York, by organizing and implementing an event like this parade. We recognize that the Phagwah Parade is the community’s main cultural event and are committed to ensuring that we produce a spectacular parade.”
The parade route will be the same as the previous years.
Reach Editor Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin