India’s cultural diversity and economic and technological progress was on display on Madison Avenue in Manhattan August 18th as thousands of men, women and children packed the barricaded sidewalks to watch the 39th India Day Parade, marking the country’s 73rd anniversary of India’s Independence Day celebrations.
Organized by the Federation of Indian Associations, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (FIA-NY, NJ, CT), the annual parade, described as the largest India Day parade in the world, saw thousands marching with Indian flags and chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai, sharing their patriotism and love for their motherland, India.
Grand Marshal Suniel Shetty, the star of yester years, Adam Silver of NBA, actress Hina Khan, a native of Kashmir, Gulshan Grover, the ‘bad man’ of Bollywood, Consul General Sandeep Chakravarty, Indian American State Senator Kevin Thomas, State Senator John Liu were among the other stars of attraction.
The cultural show on the stage near the Madison Square Garden after the parade too drew very few people than earlier years, thanks to the rising temperature. Participation from different religious groups was noteworthy this year too – Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Muslim (Ahmadiyya) and Christian groups marched in the parade with their banners showcasing the inclusive culture of India.
As usual, the Brahma Kumaris, dressed in white, marched in large numbers carrying billboards calling for peace and respect for all. The Jains of America and several Hindu groups marched with their own billboards advocating peace and love.
As in earlier years, TV Asia, Parikh Worldwide Media, and Royal Albert’s Palace, Air India, SIEA, the Consulate and others came out with colorful floats.
The many marching bands and dancing on the street by women captivated the people. The Maratha contingent, with colorful dress, drum beating and dances stole the hearts. Bands with colorful dress added sound and charm to the festivities.
The marching groups included the following among several others- Ananda Marga, Bharati Center/ISCKON, CRY-Child Rights and You, Cultural Association of Bengal, Dada Bhagwan Institute, Dhol Tasha Jellosh, USA, Heart and Hands for the Handicapped, Jai Bharati Dhol Tasha, USA, Share and Care Foundation, National Association of Asian Indian Christians in the USA, to name a few.
A few people associated with an organization named ‘standwithkashmir.org’ organized a protest march on the pavement. They claimed that the ‘people of Kashmir are in the grip of state terror imposed by the Indian state–a human rights crisis of massive proportions is unfolding behind a communications blockade.’ One of the marchers said they object fascism everywhere.
‘Support our troops, Salute our troops’ was the theme of the parade. ‘This year’s Parade is dedicated to those who have and continue to sacrifice their lives for the citizens of both our adopted country, America and our motherland India. These men and women who risk their lives go beyond the call of duty to keep us safe are the real reason we are here..’ Alok Kumar, president of FIA said earlier. ‘The parade is an embodiment of our culture and provides a way for us to interact with the community,’ he noted.
Secretary Amit Yadav stated, ‘It is my extreme pleasure to convey my heartiest greetings to you on the occasion of celebrations of 73rd Independence Day of India. I would like to take this opportunity to salute and pay respects to the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of India. It is my honor to be part of the next generation of FIA servers.’