In light of the coronavirus, Phagwa celebrations have been cancelled in several venues in south Trinidad.
The Pandavas Phagwa Association (PPA) cancelled Sunday's celebrations in Palmiste Park, La Romaine, San Fernando.
Meldan Seepersad of the PPA said more than 3,000 people attend Phagwa there annually in Palmiste Park.
“We took the decision to cancel the celebration when the news broke that this deadly coronavirus has reached the country.”
Members of the association, he said, are concerned about the risk of contracting the disease.
“Food vendors who sell delicacies and other fast foods will lose out this year but this is not something that we can help at this point,” Seepersad said.
The PPA has been holding Phagwa at Palmiste Park for more than 50 years.
The Rio Claro Ramleela Committee has also cancelled Phagwa in Rio Claro due to the virus. Jaipersad Roopnarine of the committee said people of the Rio Claro and Mayaro, especially the youths, look forward to Phagwa each year. “In the early days people will journey to Princes Town and San Fernando to participate in Phagwa and this is why we established the committee to host this event at home in Rio Claro,” Roopnarine said. The Phagwa celebrations, he said, involve touching and interacting while spraying abeer on fellow villagers, and this is why members agreed the event should be cancelled.
Roopnarine is also the president of the Chandrashekhar Vishnu Mandir, Naparima Mayaro Road, Rio Claro. He said the usual temple services will continue as there is a need to worship at this time when the coronavirus is sweeping the world.
"We will be gathering on Saturday to do the Hanuman Chalisa as we believe that this powerful prayer can help us in curbing the coronavirus,” he said.
Members of the temple are taking the precautions of putting chairs two feet apart and sterilising all cooking utensils.
“The dynamics of things change. Things evolve and this teaches us to be aware of our hygiene by washing our hands regularly and keeping to ourselves,” he said.
He hasinvited a health expert to talk about the virus to members of the temple on Sunday.
Head of the Ramleela Committee Alvin Saltan has also cancelled Ramleela in Cedar Hill, Princes Town.
Various temples in Penal, Siparia, Couva and Freeport have also cancelled Phagwa celebrations.