spiritual leader: Geeta Vaahini

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Chaguanas kicks off Phagwa season

By Carolyn Kissoon carolyn.kissoon@trinidadexpress.com

THE 2013 Phagwa season was launched at the weekend with sprays of colourful abeer, singing and dance.

The Kendra Phagwa and Pichakaree Festival hosted the traditional ceremony at its headquarters at Ragoonanan Road, Longdenville, Chaguanas, on Sunday.

The first abeer was boiled on an earthen fireside, while chowtal singing and folk dance went on.

The symbolic event also marked the start of preparations for the annual Pichakaree singing competition.

New spiritual leader of the Hindu Prachar Kendra, Geeta Vaahini, addressed the gathering. She said Pichakaree singing provided a platform by offering creative expressions in arts and culture such as music, songs, dances, poetry and painting.

Vaahini said the festival launch was also a signal for composers to begin preparing songs for the annual singing competition.

Pichakaree is a musical artform which originated in Trinidad and Tobago.

It is named after the long syringe-like tubes used to spray abeer during Phagwah celebrations.

Pichakaree songs are generally social commentary, and are sung using a mixture of Hindi, English and Bhojpuri words.

The musical form was devised by Ravi Ji, former spiritual leader of the Hindu Prachar Kendra, as an Indo-Trinidadian counterpoint to calypso.

Pichakaree competitions are an integral part of Phagwa celebrations hosted by the Hindu Prachar Kendra.

Singer Jagdeo Phagoo won the Pichakaree title last year with his composition of "Shukriyaa-Thank you Manning".

He said the song was about the state of Trinidad and Tobago, inherited by the People's Partnership Government and the struggles of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to steer this country on the right path.

Phagoo dedicated the song in memory of his mother, Sursatee Ramroop-Phagoo, 85, who died a month before the competition.

He is expected to defend his title at the competition next month.

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