facebook pixel

Caribbean Beat Magazine

Phagwah: Rite of Spring | Album

Celebrated in Trinidad since the nineteenth century, Holi — also known as Phagwah — is the Hindu spring festival, and a time to enjoy the company of friends and neighbours. At the 2019 celebrations in Aranguez, photographer Ziad Joseph captured the joyful free-for-all of colour

  • Photo by Ziad Joseph
  • Photo by Ziad Joseph
  • Photo by Ziad Joseph
  • Photo by Ziad Joseph
  • Photo by Ziad Joseph
  • Photo by Ziad Joseph
  • Photo by Ziad Joseph

2019 was Ziad Joseph’s first experience photographing Phagwah celebrations. Arriving at the Aranguez Savannah venue on Saturday 24 March, he recalls, he was greeted by “a multitude of vibrant people of all ages and ethnicities.

“In no time at all,” he says, “I, along with my camera and lens, was covered in all manner of colours: yellows, blues, reds, pinks, from deliberate or accidental encounters with zealous participants in the festivities. As the afternoon progressed and the sun began to dip closer to the horizon, a soft glow of light diffused through the clouds of abeer in the air like a rainbow. It was truly a memorable experience.”

In 2020, the official day of Holi (or Phagwah), as traditionally calculated by moon phase, falls on 9 March, but local communities may schedule public celebrations on the previous or following weekends. In addition to Trinidad, Holi/Phagwah is widely celebrated in Guyana and Suriname, with smaller commemorations in other Caribbean territories with Hindu communities.