Now that’s a way to welcome in spring! Phagwah, also known as Holi, is the Indo-Caribbean festival of the new year.

 

Every spring, on the first Sunday after the first full moon of the Hindu calendar, thousands of participants gather in Smokey Oval Park in Richmond Hill, Queens.

 

And yesterday’s sunny, warm weather drew quite a crowd, with an estimated 20,000 people gathering in the park.

 

Festival participants throw colored powder known as “abrac” on each other to celebrate the approaching spring season and to chase away the winter grays. Festival-goers normally wear all white and throw bright pink, green and blue dyes and powders.

 

Holi was originally celebrated in India, and spread to Trinidad, Surinam and Guyana. In addition to heralding spring, the holiday also celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

There is a large Guyanese population in Richmond Hill, as well as in Jamaica, Queens, making yesterday’s Holi festival in Queens one of the biggest of its kind in North America. And it seems Mother Nature appreciates Phagwah as well: The temperatures are expected to peak in the high 60s all week long in New York City.