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India Day Parade draws 10,000 in Hicksville

Parade participant Angele showing off her country's flag

Parade participant Angele showing off her country's flag while riding on a float during the Independence Day Parade for India down Broadway in Hicksville on Aug. 9, 2014. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Streets were painted orange, white and green -- the colors of the Indian flag -- as thousands of people marched Saturday in Hicksville to mark the nation's independence.

Flag-waving paradegoers, many in brightly colored saris and other traditional garb, filled a mile-long stretch of South Broadway during the third annual India Day Parade.

Along with 15 floats and dozens of bands and dance troupes, participants marched to the Asamai Hindu Temple on East Barclay Street.

There, they were greeted by state and local politicians and the parade's grand marshal, Bollywood actress Poonam Dhillon. Organizers estimated attendance at about 10,000.

A larger parade will be held in Manhattan next Sunday to celebrate the 68th anniversary of India's independence on Aug. 15. But Long Island's parade founder, Bobby Kalotee, said Nassau and Suffolk residents want their own festivities.

"The community is so much grown up, especially on Long Island," he said. "Many of them do not go to Manhattan, but they like to celebrate their independence, just like July Fourth is celebrated in every town everywhere."

Mohinder Singh Taneja of Westbury, who was honored for his work with the Indian community and Nassau County government, said more than 10,000 Indian families now live on the Island.

The parade, he said, is also for the greater community, helping "create awareness of our heritage."

Draped in bejeweled blue, green and pink gowns were three young beauty queens: Karishma Malhotra, 15, Manjari Parikh, 14, representing Miss Teen India New York; and Anika Masand, 18, representing Miss India New York.

"I'm just happy to show that American-Indians can walk together, and we bring our pride to America," Parikh said.

"The Indian-American community is . . . a very vibrant and wonderful part of our community," said Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who attended along with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and other politicians.

Several hours of dancing and musical performances followed the afternoon parade.

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