Thousands of Indian-Americans gather at NY India Day parade

Thousands of Indian-Americans gather at NY India Day parade

The 31st 'India Day Parade', organised by the Federation of Indian Associations, saw Bollywood stars and politicians rub shoulders with the Indian population living in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as Madison avenue was flooded in shades of the Indian tricolour.

Actress Rani Mukherjee was the grand marshall for the parade, which is touted as the biggest Indian parade in the US.

Noted classical singer Pandit Jasraj, actor Gulshan Grover and singer Shibani Kashyap were also present at the parade that ran for 10 blocks in the heart of New York city.

Supporters of Hazare's Lokpal bill also turned out in large numbers for the 'Walk Against Corruption'.

Wearing the 'Anna cap', the supporters waived banners and placards and shouted slogans of 'Remove corruption, save India', 'Enact strong Lokpall bill', 'We want Jan Lokpal', 'We are with you Anna Hazare' and 'India is with you, the world is with you Anna.'

Vamsi Veeramachaneni of the 'India Against Corruption' organisation told PTI that Indians living abroad are "frustrated" to see the growing level of corruption in India.

"All the Indians have gathered here to support Anna Hazare as he represents the future of a corrupt free country. We want to see a corruption-free India.

We have had independence for over 60 years and we are yet to tackle corruption, which continues to be the biggest problem in the country," he said.

Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is of Indian descent, was the guest of honour at the parade.

The parade comprised floats by US-based Indian organisations and dance performances showing the cultural diversity of India.

Mukherjee waived out to the crowd and said it was "fabulous" to see Indians living abroad celebrate their independence day with such fervour.

Seeing the large turnout of Indian-Americans at the parade, Mukherjee said she felt as "if I am in India today."

FIA said Mukherjee will preside over a ceremony at the Empire State building where the tower of the iconic New York building will light up in colours  of the Indian flag.

Mukherjee will also ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange today. Last year actress Preity Zinta had rung the bell at the exchange in Times Square.

The parade's official theme was 'My Earth, My Home' and sought to raise awareness about environmental pollution.

In Chicago, rain could not deter the spirits of the Indian community to attend 65th Independence day celebrations.

About 25 floats were paraded in the hub of Indian businesses here on Devon Avenue including India Against Corruption, Western Union, Lions CLub, Asian American Hotel Owners Association etc.

Bhaygyashree of "Maine Pyaar Kiya" fame also attended the parade and said that she was happy to see the crowd and wished them on the occasion.

At the beginning of the programme, a huge Indian flag was carried on the street on Devon Avenue, the hub of Indian businesses in Chicago.

A Scottish band set the right tone, and led the parade, even in the rain. Gov Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel could not attend because of the weather.

They called the Federation Indian Associations Chicago President Satish Gabhawala to say that they would not be able to make it and were themselves not sure that a parade will be held due to uncertainty in weather conditions and heavy downpour.

"Ours is FIA Chicago and a group of people call themselves the same name, one of the vice presidents of FIA said. The other FIA Chicago applied for a parade permit under the same name and discussed with the law department who denied them the permit on Devon Avenue," he said.

A court case is going on between the two factions over differences in elections that took place in 2009.

Bhagyashree sang the national anthem, said "Jai Hind", shook hands and took pictures with people at Saahil Boutique on Devon Avenue.

Last Saturday on August 13, another parade was held in Schaumburg by the other faction.

The fact that President of Cook County Tony Preckwinkle came for our parade means they have recognised us, said an official of FIA Chicago.

Alderman Joe Moore (democrat) of the 49th district attended with his wife Barbara, Clerk for the Circuit Court of Cook County Dorothy Brown, Chairman of the Water Reclamation District Patricia Horton all attended and wished the Indian community "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".

Also taking advantage of the Independence Day at Devon Avenue, IAC attempted to spread the word about Anna Hazare and the anti-corruption movement.

They wore "I am Anna" caps, holding the tri-color Indian flag and wearing T-shirts they raised slogans and T shirt with 'I support India Against corruption' message they raised slogans like 'Kill corruption Save lives', Take back joke pal, Give us Jan Lokpal, 'Anna Tum Sangharsh Karo Hum tumhare saath hai'.

They distributed pamphlets summarizing differences between Lokpal and Jan Lokpal. IAC Chicago helps in spreading the movement throughout America.

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