For yet another year, Oak Tree Road in Edison, New Jersey was filled with the tri-color as nearly 40,000 people from the region came together to celebrate India’s 69th Independence Day August 9th. The 1th annual New Jersey India Day Parade organized by the Indian Business Association was estimated to have attracted a record number of people celebrating the rich culture and traditions of India, while thanking the freedom fighters for the sacrifice they had made to win freedom from the colonial rulers.
Ignoring heat and sunlight people started lining up on both sides of the one-mile parade route since early noon. Some held umbrellas to get some respite from the blazing Sun while others splashed their head and face with water. Vendors were at hand to provide free water bottles. By the time the parade started from in Edison before concluding on India Square in Iselin many, especially the youth, had seemingly forgotten about the Sun and heat. They just walked the path in a frenetic show of patriotism.
As the parade marched past the crowd, people from both the end of the street, shouted slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai,’ and ‘Jai Hind.’ The excitement was feverish, even among the senior citizens, who with their feeble and tired hands tried to hold aloft the flags of India and the United States.
Someone at the viewing stand at India Square, where local VIPs stand to watch the parade and greet and encourage people, said through microphone: “We also celebrate India’s Independence Day in India, but I don’t think I have ever seen such enthusiasm even back home,” the young woman, described by standers as a starlet from India, said.
That cheered the crowd even more. Noise decibels went up as people standing on the street responded with ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ with greater gusto. Children clutched to balloons, buntings and small banners egged on by their parents. Overall, the entire atmosphere was electrified.
The festivities at the largest parade to date, as claimed by the organizers, included marching bands, over 20 floats and dozens of walking groups. There were six Bollywood starlets on the viewing stand as well. They were joined by an assortment of state wide elected officials, including Congressman Frank Pallone, State Senators Ray Lesniak and Sam Thompson, Assemblypersons Craig Coughlin, Patrick Diegnan, and Nancy Pinkin, Middlesex County Freeholder Ken Armwood, and Newark councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins.
Leading the political delegation were Edison Mayor Tom Lankey and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac. “The success of today’s parade is due to the efforts of many, including our sponsors and volunteers” said Dhiren Amin, president of IBA.
Another unique feature of the parade was the Young Entrepreneurial Society, a new subchapter of IBA. “They are our future, we are building for tomorrow” said Chandrakant Patel, Chairman for IBA. A cultural program featuring local artists followed the parade. “We need to promote our local talent. New Jersey is filled with young talented artists” added Manher Shah, IBA trustee.