A show of pride at Manhattan's India Day parade
Indian New Yorkers on Sunday celebrated their vibrant culture and India's independence at a Manhattan parade with flurries of waving orange, white and green flags and the sonorous beating of double-headed drums called dhols.
Colorful floats, marching bands and convertibles made their way down Madison Avenue with thousands of revelers cheering on beauty queens, politicians, Bollywood actress Vidya Balan and social activist Anna Hazare.
"I lost my voice already because I've been going so crazy at this India Day parade," said Jay Sakaria, 18, of New Hyde Park. "I'm proudly Indian."
Sakaria, a Hofstra student, wore a multicolored turban with three miniature Indian flags stuck in it. He waved an American flag and marched with three dozen members of the Vaishnav Temple of New York in New Hyde Park.
The 33rd annual India Day parade helped mark the country's independence from British rule. Organizers said the city hosts the largest India Day celebration outside of India itself.
"New York has been a good friend to the Indian community, and India is giving back to the city," said Neeta Bhasin of East Meadow, a parade organizer and community leader. She said that Indian New Yorkers can be found in the city's top industries, including technology and hotel management.
The parade, one of several this summer celebrating the city's cultural diversity, drew elected officials and political candidates campaigning with just over three weeks to go before the Sept. 10 primary.
"New York City's diversity is one of its greatest strengths," said Joe Lhota, a Republican mayoral candidate. "What we're really doing here is celebrating coming to America."
Reshma Saujani, a Democratic candidate for public advocate, would be the city's first Indian-American in office, if elected. "I think our voice is getting more politically powerful," she said. "It's important for the community to be out recognizing that."
Hazare, an advocate of rural development in India and vocal critic of government corruption there, inspired many parade-goers to wear "I am Anna" paper hats to signify their support of his causes.
"Anna is a person who wants to take us a step forward, make India a better society," said Sunil Gosai, 28, of New Rochelle, an engineer. "Everyone needs an icon and he is an icon."