Thursday 1st March, 2007


Kendra launches Phagwa, Pichakaaree

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From 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 Kendra’s 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&T’s cultural landscape after having given so much to the development of national culture.

Phagwa 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 of diversity.”

Ravi Ji said the Kendra’s Phagwa festival would be dedicated to the late Dr Ken Vidia Parmasad, a former lecturer at UWI.

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.

The 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&T’s growing crime problem.Phagwa celebrations usually take place on the Sunday after the burning of the effigy.

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 the runaround.

Ravi Ji said the event’s 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.

Schedule of events

1 pm: Chowtal singing

1.35 pm: Bachon ka khel—Children’s games

2 pm: Baal Pichakaaree—The 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 order:

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


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