Till then the march was a picture of discipline, with
thousands already having crossed the finishing point on
Imagine if it was Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh
Khan on the float.
This year’s parade, with the theme ‘Colors of India’, tried
to portray modern India, though many of the floats were
from television networks announcing their shows.
The 34th annual India Day Parade, organized by the
Federation of Indian Associations in New York, New
Jersey, Connecticut, surpassed the number of attendees in
With clear skies and moderate temperature, thousands
marched in the parade while thousands more watched
from the sides. Mainstream Americans and tourists were
in large numbers among them, applauding the colorful
themes of the floats.
Vivek Ranadive, owner of the Sacramento Kings Major,
the first Indian-born owner in the National Basketball
Association’s history, who was one of the three grand marshals, said he felt humbled being invited to the event.
‘Over 150,000 people were here to experience the India
Day parade,’ he said, ‘and I can’t express how proud I am
that the Kings and the NBA were a part of this transcen-
He was accompanied by Sim Bhullar, the first player of
Indian descent to sign with an NBA team, who joined the
The 7-foot-5, 360-pound (163 kg) centre was a member
of the Sacramento Kings team that won the 2014
Samsung NBA Summer League title in Las Vegas.
Since Ranadive bought the Kings in March 2013, the
Kings televised over 20 live games in India, launched a
Web site in Hindi to connect with a growing Hindi-speak-ing fan base from around the world, sent the Kings’ players and dancers to Mumbai, and signed the team’s first
India’s Consul General in New York Dnyaneshwar
Mulay said it was a proud moment for him to participate
in the parade and see such a large number of Indians.
Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive, who is
challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a
Republican in the November election, marveled at the colorful march and number of attendees. He said he has very
good relations with the Indian community in his county,
which is the fastest growing group there.
‘We celebrate diversity and it enriches us,’ he said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate
Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and New
York State Assemblyman David Weprin joined the parade.
Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, deputy chief mis-
sion at the Indian embassy in Washington, DC, also par-
In a first, this year the FIA’s India Day parade was a
three-day celebration that began with a live concert by
Kailash Kher at the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre in
Newark, New Jersey, August 15.
Bernice Snydder, who lives a few blocks away from
Madison Avenue, said she was impressed by the parade.
“This is the first time I attended,” Snydder, a retired
teacher, said. “I missed it all these years, which was a
Dr Ravi Jahagirdar, president, American Association of
Physicians of Indian origin, traveled from Florida to
attend the parade.
Chicago native Dr Ram Raju, president and chief execu-
tive officer, New York City Health and Hospitals
Karen Lukas, founder of the New York-based nonprofit
Folk Arts Rajasthan, walked in the parade with volunteers
to create awareness about the Merasi musicians in
The nonprofit organization i4Farmers marched to high-
light the plight of farmers in India and the rampant
Among the marchers was the Swamy Bapa Pipe Band,
billed as the first desi pipe band. Kanu Patel, manager of
the band, said they perform at temples and India-related
There was also the Dhol Taasha Jallosh with its high
energy lezim dance, the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, the
largest literacy movement in India that participated in the
parade for the first time, the Telangana Association of
North America with its colorful float and cutouts of Chief
Minister K C Rao.
The Federation of Kerala Associations in North America
and the Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas
marched in the parade with sizeable numbers.
Lakshmi Anand, one of the founding members of the
parade 34 years ago, said she was not invited to the
parade like many founding members.
“The India Day Parade which was started in the early
’80s by FIA has grown in magnitude,” she said. “Many of
us were involved in initiating and evolving what is today
one of the largest parades. More than the spirit of
Independence, there is display of glitz, glamour and
Dr Shaik Ubaid of the Coalition Against Genocide said,
“It is even more important for the organizers of the
parade to make it inclusive. Minorities from India must
be made to feel welcome, for we love India as much if not
more and have contributed to its freedom — from Tipu
Sultan to Maulana Azad.”
Two days of events, billed as ‘freedom celebrations’, were
held at the Garden State Exhibit Centre in Somerset, New
Jersey. The highlights included an Indian real estate expo,
jewelry displays, food court, dance performances,
Bollywood celebrities, and a performance by London-based R&B singer Arjun.
New York becomes India
Sacramento Kings player Sim Bhullar, left, and owner Vivek Ranadive
Indian mythology ruled with the children as well. Indian tennis star Leander Paes, right, shares a joke with Sunny Deol, center