India Day parade enchants Americans
Tri-coloured patriotism swept through the streets of the Big Apple on Sunday when nearly 1,00,000 Indian Americans descended on the city to celebrate India's 58th Independence Day anniversary and took part in the famous India Day Parade in the company of celebrities, politicians and top citizens.
Waving the Indian Tri-colour and marching to the chants of Vande Mataram across the streets of Manhattan, the marchers displayed a brand of patriotism that projected strong ties between the United States and India. "God Bless India" and "God Bless America" were the constant refrain of the crowd at the parade, which was televised live by all the major American television networks.
Considered the largest parade outside India that celebrates Indian independence, the organisers left no stone unturned to make it a success, as this was the silver jubilee year of the event conducted annually by the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), an umbrella body of Indian organisations across the Tri-state area.
Celebrity attendees at the event included New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Congressmen Joseph Crawley and Anthony D. Weiner while the Indian contingent comprised several Members of Parliament, stars from Bollywood besides hundreds of community leaders led by FIA president Sudhir Parikh.
Easily recognisable faces in the crowd were those of movie stars Anil Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha and MPs from Kerala, NN Krishnadas and AP Abdullah Kutty. New Jersey assemblyman Updendra Chivukula was another attraction of the parade.
At the review, Krishnadas read out Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's message to the FIA and the special greetings for all those who had reached Manhattan to celebrate India's Independence Day.
"It is very satisfying to learn that FIA is continuing with its longstanding tradition of organising India Day parade in New York and is celebrating the silver jubilee of India Day parade this year.
"There has been a transformation in India-US relations. During my recent visit to the US, I noted the important role played by the Indian American community in this process. The great achievements and significant strides made by the Indian community in the US have enhanced Indians' prestige abroad and internationally," Singh said in his statement.
Presenting a proclamation from New York City, Mayor Bloomberg commented the excellent contribution of Indian Americans to the city's economy, be it engineering, medicine and education. "The Indian community has contributed immensely to the city's economy, education, and every walks of life and business here. I wish Indian Americans happy Independence Day," he said after presenting the proclamation.
There were 41 cultural floats showing the rich tradition of Indian states. In addition more than 70,000 people participated at the 'mela' and cultural event held after the parade.
The parade began about 12 noon, and front line started moving from 45th and Madison Avenue and was followed by 41 floats, and about 26 groups that performed various dance forms of India moved in between the floats. The three-day event was kicked off on Aug 20 at the state theatre in New Brunswick.
This year's event was significant for the participation of corporate America with companies like American Airlines, Metlife and General Motors contributing to the show. Five Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kashmir and Maharashtra, participated in the event by sending cultural floats.
After the parade, Parikh thanked the distinguished guests and participants for making it the largest parade over the past 25 years.