SCFI FestivalsSociety for the Confluence of Festivals in India

Trinidad and Tobago

Holi is celebrated with a lot of pomp and eclat in twin island states of Trinidad and Tobago which has a large Indian diaspora. Here, it is largely known as Phagwa.

Holi is said to have come to Trinidad around 1845 by the Hindus who migrated from Bihar as contractual labourers on the sugarcane field. Since then it is being celebrated every year with great enthusiasm.

In the early days the festival was observed very modestly because of the many constraints that the Hindus had to deal with. But, today it is celebrated at a national level, in a grand style throughout Trinidad.

Just as their Indian counterparts, Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago celebrate the festival with colours, songs, music and dance. A variety of water colours are mixed and sprayed on all those who participate in the celebrations, till they become unrecognizable. People exchange sweets and greetings with each other. Hard feelings or animosity, if any, are also washed down with the coloured waters of Holi and general harmony prevails.

A special type of folk song called Chowtal is sung during the course of the festival and the music is usually played with only two instruments. The dholak (a hand drum) and the majeera (cymbals or percussion instrument) are the only two instruments used. Chowtal songs are sung rather loudly and are high pitched. Fast paced music invites people to shake their hips and sway with the rhythm.

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