left, Ravi Ji and Marva Mc Kenzie look on as Jagdeo Phagoo,
the defending Pichakaaree champ, renders a taste of what
he plans to give the judges on Sunday. Photo: Adrian Boodan
On March 4 the Hindu Prachar Kendra will take its Pichakaree
song competition into its 16th year at the Kendras
annual Phagwa celebrations at the Dival Nagar, Chaguanas.
Addressing a news conference at the Nagar on Tuesday, Ravi
Ji, the head of the Kendra, said it was about time Phagwa
earned its space on T&Ts cultural landscape after
having given so much to the development of national culture.
this weekend is so close on the heels of Carnival that like
a middle child it gets squeezed out of attention. The State
institutions of culture have themselves kept a hands-off
relationship with Phagwa, rather than trying to inspire
the host community to explore it as an investment in a destination
Ravi Ji said the Kendras Phagwa festival would be
dedicated to the late Dr Ken Vidia Parmasad, a former lecturer
He said Parmasad had played a pivotal role in the development
of this new genre of music, having composed and judged Pichakaaree
for many years
Parmasad is famous in Pichakaaree circles for his composition
of Oh Children of Noble Culture, which has served as one
of the benchmark models for Pichakaaree compositions.
Dr Vishala Parmasad, his daughter, will present Hala Bol,
Jahajee Bol, a 1995 composition by her father, for the launch
of the Pichakaaree finals on Sunday.
Ravi Ji said pichakaaree takes its name from a water-gun
traditionally used in Phagwa to squirt out abir, the coloured
liquid sprayed on participants in the festival.
name Pichakaaree therefore symbolises the idea of songs
which seek to represent the voice, interests, concerns,
history, emotions and creative instinct of a people and
inform the society. He said the pichakaarees are sung
in English but must contain Hindi or Bhojpuri words and
phrases.The Kendra expects to formally start Phagwa celebrations
with the burning of Holika or Holika Dahan on Friday night.
However, Ravi Ji said the programme would be shortened because
of T&Ts growing crime problem.Phagwa celebrations
usually take place on the Sunday after the burning of the
Celebrants shower each other with a coloured liquid called
abir, in an explosion of reds, greens, blue, orange and
hues of yellow mix on the primarily white clothing. The
participants are driven by the energetic fast music coming
from chowtal singers.
Kendra short of
funds for Phagwa
Ravi Ji said funding for the event was proving to be a big
problem, but noted that the Kendra remained hopeful.
The group needs $400,000 to stage Phagwa at the Nagar but
the Kendra has in hand only $30,000.
He said the organisation was awaiting funding from the Ministry
of Culture and private sponsors. He said the construction
boom had put a damper on the voluntary labour the Kendra
usually got to stage the event and the Kendra now had to
pay to set up the stage.
While the Kendra would welcome any assistance from the URP
or Cepep, he said the organisation was tired of getting
Ravi Ji said the events ageing organisers simply did
not have the energy to expend to knock continuously on doors
that do not open.
He said efforts to get help from the National Self Help
Commission had been fruitless, while some traditional sponsors
have pulled out, including the National Flour Mills.
Alescon, a Chaguanas-based concrete company, has pledged
to assist the Kendra.
pm: Chowtal singing
1.35 pm: Bachon ka khelChildrens games
2 pm: Baal PichakaareeThe voice of the future. Young
children will present their Pichakaaree
2.30 pm: Inauguration
2.50 pm: Pichakaaree song competition
5.30 pm: Makhan chor
5.45 pm: Ranga Barse
6 pm: Judges decision
Fifteen finalists will try their best to dethrone Jagdeo
Phagoo, reining champ and three-time Pichakaaree winner.
The finalists are expected to appear in the following
1. Shivana & Shivani Lal
2. Asha Kamachee
3. Mukesh Babooram
4. Reena Teelucksingh
5. Artie Marajh
6. Marva Mckenzie
7. Shivan Phagoo
8. Priya Poorai
9. Surendra Maharaj & Tara Ramkumar
10. Dubraj Persad
11. Jagdeo Phagoo
12. Beesram Sieudath
13. Pooja Ramoutar
14. Kamaldai Nisha Ramkissoon
15. Toolsie Ramdass Singh
16. Mohip Poonwassie