INDIANA ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN 500-FESTIVAL PARADE
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
May 31, 2012
Kanwal Prakash Singh/ Ramesh
Amidst the galaxy of celebrities, 33-race drivers, dignitaries, the 14 celebrated high school bands, 13 major corporate floats, and 9 giant balloons, there was the 150-strong Nationalities Council of Indiana (NCI) Parade Unit. This is the fourth year that the NCI has been invited to organize a Parade Unit consisting of various nationalities and ethnic groups that represent the ethnic and international communities in Indiana and to participate in the annual IPL 500-Festival Parade sponsored by The IPL 500-Festival Parade Committee.
PRIDE AND HONOR
A number of ethnic communities and cultural groups in fabulous costumes showing traditional pride formed the 2012-NCI Parade Unit. Chinese Americans with their giant Chinese Dragon performing the Dragon Dance and Chinese Lions, always a favorite, greeted the Parade spectators. Native Americans and the Native Hawaiians with their traditional regalia, Asian Indians with their brocaded costumes and Benares silk saris, Filipino ladies in their beautifully coordinated dresses and delicate parasols, and South Korean Americans with a youth band and adults in festive attire added their culture and spirit to the occasion. Also represented were Turkey, Poland, Lithuania, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Ethiopia, Liberia, and Middle East Dancers. The Sikh American men with distinct red turbans and silk kurtas, ladies in their brocaded Punjabi dresses, and young Punjabi dancers in traditional outfits performed the famous Bhangra Dance with robust sound of a Punjabi dhol (drum) to the delight of Parade spectators. A representative of each group carried the flag of participating nation in the 2012 IPL 500-Festival NCI Parade Unit.
Participants exhibited their ethnic and cultural pride and were excited to share it with the 300,000 strong enthusiastic spectators gathered to enjoy the colorful spectacle and time-honored Hoosier traditions at the 55th annual 500-Festival Parade and the vast television audience around the nation. The IPL 500-Festival Parade is ranked today with Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, The Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA for the attractions and its association with the largest spectacle in racing, the 500-Mile Race in May.
FRIENDSHIP, FUN, AND SENSE OF BELONGING
The ethnic groups are proud of this opportunity to be a part of something so special and exciting. The honor and privilege to add ethnic sparkle to this celebrated Parade is a thoughtful recognition of the growing diversity, changing cultural and spiritual tapestry of our Nation and communities, and is deeply appreciated. The occasion also provides the ethnic groups opportunities to forge new friendships as the get ready to march in the Parade. This has certainly added to the ethnic discussion, active engagement, and mainstreaming of their cultures at other major gatherings including the Asian Festival (June 9th at Garfield Park) sponsored by the Asian American Alliance and the International Festival in November sponsored by the Nationalities Council of Indiana. This will go a long way in expanding a spirit of networking and solidarity at many levels and enhancing pride and the sense of belonging in communities. The spirit of acceptance by organizers and spectators goes a long way to dispel unfounded stereotypes and opens the doors to new opportunities including working together for building bridges of understanding and developing friendships and respect for our national cultural assets and shared humanity. From that perspective, the IPL 500-Festival Parade may have added many promising dimensions by their inclusion of the NCI Parade Unit to this nationally celebrated Parade...... Photos DSC 0057, DSC 0089, DSC 0097 by Maninder Walia, and IMG 1830 by Bal Sindal)