Hicksville celebrates 1st India Day Parade

The India Day Parade takes place in Hicksville. The India Day Parade takes place in Hicksville. The parade began in the parking lot of Patel Brothers grocery store and proceeded up South Broadway. (Aug. 11, 2012) Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

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For a few hours Saturday, a mile-long stretch of South Broadway in Hicksville was colored orange, white and green.

Countless Indian flags were waving -- some perched on parade floats, others held by the people who walked and rode in Long Island's first India Day Parade.

Drawing an enthusiastic crowd of thousands, the parade celebrated India's independence day four days early.

"I think it keeps our culture alive," said Sahil Batra, 13, of Valley Stream, who participated in a dance performance and is the son of one of the organizers.

About 55,000 Indian-Americans live on Long Island, many in the Hicksville area, according to census figures.

Saturday's event was viewed by many as an opportunity to introduce others to another world.

"It shows how we can come together and what Indian culture really is about," Batra said.

The parade started about 1 p.m., making its way down Broadway. As Indian music blared, people on floats and in the streets danced.

"I need everyone dancing and making noise!" shouted Satbir Bedi of Syosset, known as DJ Kucha, who was running the music on one of the floats.

At the end of the parade route a large stage was set up, surrounded by about 20 vendors, many selling Indian cuisine, such as papdi chaat, a snack made from boiled potatoes and chickpeas, and kulfi, a frozen dairy dessert.

Among those enjoying the food were Raman and Rama Venkatesh, a couple from Jericho.

"It is wonderful," Rama Venkatesh said of the event. "We get to meet people . . . and remember the freedom and struggles."

While the parade was a time to celebrate India's 65th year of independence, many of those in attendance hadn't forgotten the victims of the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.

"We also remember our brothers and sisters in this time of tragedy," said parade co-chair Mohinder S. Taneja, who is also deputy commissioner of community services in North Hempstead.

New York City hosts a similar event, but organizers of the Hicksville parade wanted a celebration that was closer to home.

"This feels amazing," said Mala Bakshi, of Huntington, another key organizer, as she scanned the crowd. "I can't describe it any other way."

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