NRI, Large crowds celebrate Independence Day in New York & California

Attended by music director A.R. Rahman, Bollywood actor Dino Morea and Congress MP Madhu Goud Yaskhi


New York & California, Aug 17, 2004

The sights and sounds of India descended on the streets of midtown Manhattan to the cheering of thousands of tri-colour waving people who gathered to celebrate India's 58th Independence Day.

Noted music director A.R. Rahman, Bollywood actor Dino Morea and Congress MP Madhu Goud Yaskhi, a practising Manhattan attorney who is the only NRI member of the Indian parliament, were chief guests at the annual India Day Parade, organized by Indian American organizations.

New York Police Department (NYPD) personnel led the parade on horseback carrying the Indian tricolour and the American national flag and were accompanied by the NYPD music band. For the first time in the history of NYPD, 30 police officers of Indian origin participated in the parade

Thousands of people cheered the marchers all along the route, waving the Indian tricolour and shouting "Jai Hind," "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Long Live India".

The floats at the parade exhibited India's rich and diverse traditions as well as economic growth. The Hare Krishna Group, National Association of Christians, and Muslims or North America showcased India's religious diversity to the world.

As the parade ended on 27th street, a cultural extravaganza - a non-stop three-hour dance and music programme - began on Madison Square Gardens.

People thronged to the few vendors who sold Indian delicacies like bhel puri, chaat, dosa, idli, vada, and tandoori dishes. There were some stalls selling Indian artefacts and dresses. For the thousands of Indian Americans it was a day of expressing solidarity with their motherland, India.

Media reports from California said there were two functions held by rival Indian American organizations. One was in Fremont where there was a parade with floats and an elaborate fashion show while the other was set in a beautiful park in downtown San Jose, California.

Both the festivals held this weekend to honour India's independence appeared to have everything in common -- great food and a chance to reunite with old friends. According to the organizers an estimated 10,000 tickets were sold in Fremont and 4,000 in San Jose.

While both the events overlapped in entertainment, food and community outreach, the Fremont festival was larger in size and scope. In Fremont, more than 100 doctors set up tables, while in San Jose about two dozen doctors were on hand to provide free medical screening.