NEW YORK — Over 40 floats, marching bands, police contingents, folk and cultural performances, walking groups and Bollywood celebrities, were highlights of the 39th annual India Day parade, held Aug. 18 to mark the 72nd anniversary of India’s Independence Day. Organized by the Federation of Indian Associations of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, the parade is billed as the largest celebration of India’s Independence Day outside India. A record number of people attended the parade, organizers said.
Thousands of people were lined up on either sides of the parade route in midtown Manhattan, transforming Madison Avenue into a sea of green, orange and white. Waving the Indian tricolor, the crowd could be heard shouting slogans of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” “Vande Mataram” and Jai Hind,” as floats passed the parade route. Some were seen dancing to the songs blasting from the loudspeakers; some of the float occupants also got off the floats to dance with the onlookers.
But the loudest cheers were reserved for the grand marshal, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty, television actress Hina Khan of “Kasauty Zindagi Ki” fame, and Gulshan Grover, Bollywood’s “bad man,” along with National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver, NBA athletes, and Times Now journalist Navika Kumar.
While a small group of Indian-Americans were seen protesting against India’s stand on Kashmir and the removal of Article 370, there was a large contingent of Kashmiri Pandits who marched in the parade.
Another highlight was the members of the South Asian Republican Coalition who marched in the parade with a two large cardboard cutouts of President Donald Trump next to their organization’s banner.
At the end of the parade route, a street fair featured Indian-American businesses from the tristate area showcasing their products at booths. Also on display were Indian arts and crafts, clothes, jewelry and regional cuisine. At a stage on the far end of Madison Square Park, students from various area dance schools performed.