The Mill River Park in Stamford, CT on Sunday, August 7th wore a festive look as Indian Americans and other Americans gathered in large numbers to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day with an annual India Day Festival. A floating crowd of over 2,000 people attended flag hoisting followed by the India Festival and Kite flying at the Mill River Park. Dressed in colorful traditional Indian attire, with melodious music from the popular Bollywood world, dances depicting the wide variety of Indian culture, kite flying, spicy Indian cuisine, and booths decorated with Indian symbols and face art, the festivities were a treat to the fast-growing Indian American community in the state of Connecticut.
The City of Stamford led by Mayor Caroline Simmons, along with Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and several elected state lawmakers joined hands with the Indian Diaspora in Connecticut for a celebration organized by the Connecticut Chapter of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO-CT).
The day-long celebrations began with the hoisting of the American, Indian, and Connecticut flags at the Government Center in Stamford by Mayor Caroline Simmons, event Gold sponsor, an investment firm 3Lines Partner, Nandu Kuppuswamy, several elected officials from Connecticut General Assembly and Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International. American and Indian national anthems were sung students of Stamford’s Hindi and Tamil schools.
Connecticut General Assembly issued a citation honoring the India Day Celebration and presented it to GOPIO-CT. The citation was introduced by State Senator Patricia Billie Miller (27th Dist.) and supported by Rep. Daniel J. Fox (148th Dist.), Rep. Matt Blumenthal (147th Dist.), Rep. David Michel (46th Dist.), Rep. Corey P. Paris (145th Dist.) and Rep. Hubert D. Delany (144th Dist.)
“In Recognition Of: India is celebrating its 75th Anniversary of Independence, also known as Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Today, we join you to celebrate the rich history and culture along with freedom and liberty with people of India. We urge all our citizens to join us in publicly acknowledging the many achievements and contributions Indian Americans have made to the economy of Connecticut especially in IT and Technology, Healthcare and Hospitality. Congratulations on your Independence Day!”
The entire membership extends its very best wishes on this memorable occasion and expresses the hope for continued success. The citation was signed by CT General Assembly’s Pro Tempore Marten M. Looney, House Speaker Matt Ritter and Secretary of State Mark F. Kohler.
Following the flag hoisting, everyone moved to the adjacent Mill River Park for the inaugural ceremony at the Carousel Hall. There were vendors who served delicious Indian food, Indian arts and crafts, Indian clothing and other items were displayed at the Park giving a glimpse of India’s rich and diverse culture.
The ceremony started with a rendition of Vande Mataram sung by GOPIO-CT Vice President Dr. Jaya Daptardar and Hindi School Coordinator Kruti Jokhakar. Mill River Park Collaborative Board Member George Boyce was introduced who spoke on the various programs conducted in the park and that the park has become focal point for the community to come together and celebrate.
In his welcome address, GOPIO-CT Trustee/Advisor and Chairman of GOPIO International Dr. Thomas Abraham, a veteran community leader who was instrumental starting numerous community and professional organizations said, “The India Festival in Stamford, CT is a tribute to a strong and vibrant Indian-American community that has excelled in almost all areas of life in this adopted nation of ours.”
“Through events like the India Festival, we are cultivating and developing community networking with all these younger elected officials,” Dr. Abraham added. Dr. Abraham then introduced a young Indian American high school graduate from Norwalk Arnav Jhangiani, who spoke his perspective of what India’s independence means to him.
Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons proclaimed August 15th as India Day to commemorate Indian Independence when Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian flag at the Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15, 194In the proclamation presented to GOPIO-CT, Mayor Simmons said that the Indian Independence was marked largely by non-violent resistance and civil disobedience and the Independence Day is celebrated by the Indian Diaspora worldwide. The proclamation further noted that Stamford City will honor Indian community which is an integral part of city’s diversity, success and great future.
Prominent among those who addressed and greeted the Indian American community included:, State Senators Patricia Billie Miller and Ryan Fazio, State Assembly Representatives Harry Arora, Daniel J. Fox, Matt Blumenthal, David Michel and Hubert D. Delany. They all praised India, the world’s largest democracy, continuing its path through democratic route and that India and the USA being world’s two largest democracies have common interest to be together with close relationship.
“The India Festival is a tribute to a strong and vibrant Indian-American community that has excelled in almost all areas of life in this adopted nation of ours,” CT Assemblyman Harry Arora, who shared with the audience his childhood in India and later on, how he continued to cherish the memories of India’s non-violent freedom movement and close partnership between Indian and the United States, the largest democracies of the world.
Norwalk resident Mrs. Yashasvi Jhangiani was bestowed with Indian Independence Liberty Award for her service to GOPIO for the last dozen years and the larger Indian and American community.
The cultural programs depicted the diversity of Indian culture and traditions. Among those who portrayed the diverse and cultural traditions of Indian traditions included Lakshmi Sujanan, daughter of Vineetha and Sujanan, former president of MASCONN. Other groups performed a the event were Thirakte Kadam by Neha Shah, Sindhis of Connecticut, Rajasthani and Punjabi Gidda dances.
As in the previous years, 2022 high school graduates were recognized. Coordinated by GOPIO-CT Treasurer Mahesh Jhangiani over 40 students registered, Of which 16 were present who were recognized with a certificate and an Amazon gift card.
The program sponsored by investment firm 3Lines and International Museum of the Saree, was efficiently compered by Dr. Jaya Daptardar and Nadita Kotian, who served as MCs.
Over the last 16 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities.