Thousands of Indian-Americans gathered at Madison Avenue in Manhattan here for the annual India Day Parade to commemorate the 66th Independence Day of their homeland, with actor Saif Ali Khan and cricketer Anil Kumble gracing the occasion as special guests.

The 32nd ‘India Day Parade’, held on August 19, has become a regular fixture in the city’s cultural scene and is one of the biggest parades organised in the U.S.

Mr. Khan, dressed in a crisp white kurta-pyjama, was the grand marshal of the parade, and waved out to fans as the float carrying him made its way through 10 blocks of Madison Avenue.

A visibly delighted Mr. Khan said he was proud to be an Indian representative at the parade, adding that the event was an opportunity for him to express his gratitude to his fans in the U.S.

“Whatever fame we have is because of the movie industry, and I am happy to see such a massive outpouring of love here. I want my fans in the U.S. to know that we love them and I hope they continue to enjoy our films,” Mr. Khan said.

Mr. Khan was accompanied by Indian Consul General Prabhu Dayal. Mr. Kumble, who was the guest of honour, said it was a matter of pride for him to be part of one of the biggest Independence Day events held outside India.

“Indians have made cricket popular in the U.S. and I hope America, too, becomes an important member of the cricketing fraternity,” he said.

The Cricket World T20 Trophy was also displayed at the parade.

Apart from Indian-Americans, who had come from neighbouring New Jersey and Connecticut to witness the parade, Several New Yorkers stopped to look at India’s cultural heritage and diversity, which were displayed through tableaux and dance performances.

People waved the Indian flag and sported tri-colour sashes as patriotic Indian music wafted through the air. Thousands of Indians waited on the side of the roads to catch a glimpse of Mr. Khan and Mr. Kumble, during the nearly three-hour parade.

A contingent of the New York Police Department led the parade, which is organised every year by the Federation of Indian Associations. The parade is a culmination of various events organised in the country to celebrate the Independence Day.

On August 15, Mr. Dayal rang the opening bell at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, while Mr. Kumble rang the closing bell on Friday. Several other parades and cultural events were organised in Dallas, Chicago, and Boston to mark August 15.

Last year, Indian actress Rani Mukherjee was the grand marshall of the parade. The other main attractions were colourful floats, street fairs, food courts, and merchandise booths as well as cultural programmes by dance schools.

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