The Indian-American community across the US turned out in large numbers and enthusiastically celebrated the country’s 64th Independence Day by unfurling the tricolour and organising a series of events, some of which were graced by Bollywood stars.
The events were also marked by cultural events, songs and speeches highlighting the contribution of the Indian-American community in the development of the US and their role in strengthening the Indo-U.S. relationship.
Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Meera Shankar hoisted the tricolour at her official residence in the presence of a small gathering of people, who had turned despite rain.
The tricolour was also hoisted at the Indian Consulates in New York, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco.
The largest of the events marking India’s Independence in the US was held in New York where thousands of people lined up on both sides of the road as a colourful parade led by Bollywood star Preity Zinta passed through Manhattan.
Dressed in pink, Preity Zinta held the Indian flag and waved to her screaming fans at the annual India Day Parade, which has now become a landmark event on New York’s cultural scene.
Bollywood hits accompanied the dozens of colourful floats that were decorated with the faces of freedom fighters and an assortment of patriotic paraphernalia.
Freemont in California was the venue of the second largest gathering of Indian-Americans on the occasion where thousands of Indian Americans from various parts of the state turned up for the annual parade, with floats depicting Indian scenes and culture.
Bollywood heartthrob Aftab Shivdasani was the Grand Marshall of the parade.
Besides cultural shows like dance, classical and folk music, Gazals and qawalis, drama and fashion shows, over 100 Indian-American Physicians and allied health professionals provided free medical services to people.
A small group of separatist Sikhs also held a peaceful protest alongside the parade, but there were no takers for them.
In Obama’s home town of Chicago, the Independence Day was celebrated on Devon Avenue at the intersection of Western and Devon Avenue with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn as the grand marshal of the parade.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley kicked off the event at the start of the week at the Chicago Cultural Centre where he spoke about contributions made by Indians to the city in front of a gathering of Indian-American businessmen, consulate officials, and community leaders, who applauded him.
It was also a special occasion for the gays and lesbians of Indian origin. For the first time, the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association (SALGA) participated in the parade in New York.
Last week, the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) allowed them to participate in the annual parade after SALGA protested against their non-inclusion in it.
In Boston, the main event was organised by the India Association of Greater Boston.
The four-hour cultural event included traditional Indian dance performances such as the bhangra, garba, odissi and dance on Bollywood music by the Indian American community here.
A group of bhangra dancers from MIT, known as the MIT Summer Bhangra, also performed the bhangra at the cultural event.
Several thousand people participated the day long Independence day celebrations in Houston, Texas, which among others was attended by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
She praised the contribution of the Indian American community in the US.
In Maryland, the suburb of Washington, Bollywood star Shekhar Suman participated in the Independence Day celebrations.