Indian social activist Anna Hazare and Bollywood star Vidya Balan led America’s largest India Day parade in Manhattan as Indian New Yorkers waving the country’s tricolour flags celebrated India’s independence.
The 33rd annual India Day parade down Madison Avenue Sunday featured 40 colourful floats, marching bands and convertibles and thousands of cheering revellers marching to the beat of dhols or the Indian drums.
Another highlight of the parade was a replica of the Red Fort in an 80 by 10 feet area in Manhattan near the parade route to showcase India’s heritage.
Many parade-goers along the orange, white and green lined route wore “I am Anna” paper hats to signify their support to Hazare, whose anti-corruption crusade has inspired thousands at home and abroad.
One parade-goer wore a multi-coloured turban with three miniature Indian flags stuck in it. He waved an American flag and marched with three dozen members of the Vaishnav Temple of New York in New Hyde Park.
The parade drew elected officials and political candidates, including Reshma Saujani, a Democratic candidate for public advocate and Joe Lhota, a Republican mayoral candidate ahead of the September 10 primary.
“I think our voice is getting more politically powerful,” said Saujani, who would be New York city’s first Indian-American politician, if elected. “It’s important for the community to be out recognizing that.”
“New York City’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths,” said Lhota.
“What we’re really doing here is celebrating coming to America.” Also joining the event organized by the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) were former Indian Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh, Tamil film star Sarath Kumar and his wife Radika Sarath Kumar, a television and film actress.
Hazare will be ringing the opening bell at the Nasdaq stock exchange Monday morning to mark India’s Independence Day with many IT companies listed on Nasdaq.
Meanwhile, veteran community leader Thomas Abraham, founder of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) led the India Day parade organized by India cultural society of Rockland county in New City in New York Saturday.