Indians abroad celebrate Independence Day

Kuwait/Kathmandu/Sydney/Washington, Aug 15 (IANS) As India celebrated its 67th Independence Day Thursday, Indian expatriates and the diaspora across the globe marked the special day away from their motherland with festive fervour.

Indians living in Fiji, which lies closest to the International Date Line in the east, were the first among the expatriates living in a number of nations to mark India's Independence Day celebrations.

Hundreds of people of Indian-origin gathered at the Indian high commission in Fiji's capital Suva on this occasion.

Unfurling the tricolour, Indian High Commissioner Vinod Kumar said India and Fiji had achieved a lot since the establishment of bilateral relations between the two countries, the Fiji Times reported.

Ethnic Indians comprise 37 percent of Fiji's population of nearly 870,000. Most of them are descendants of indentured labourers who were brought in from India between 1879 and 1916 to work in the country's sugarcane plantations.

In Kuwait, Indians marked the day with Ambassador Satish C. Mehra unfurling the tricolour in the embassy premises.

He read out the address to the nation by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee delivered on the Independence Day eve.

Describing India-Kuwait relations as historic, close and characterised by mutual respect and understanding, he lauded the contribution of the Indian community in Kuwait's development and to the bilateral relations.

Members of the Indian community in Kuwait from all walks of life, including representatives of Indian associations, businessmen, doctors, engineers, other professionals, domestic workers and embassy staff with their families participated in the open-air celebrations, an embassy statement said.

Meanwhile, leading English newspapers of Kuwait, 'Arab Times' and 'Kuwait Times', also brought out special supplements on the occasion and published messages of President Mukherjee as well as of the ambassador.

Kuwait is home to around 640,000 expatriate Indians.

South Korea joined India in celebrating I-Day. Local artists performed classical Indian dances like Kathak and Odissi as members of both the Indian and Korean communities jointly celebrated their independence days at a unique function.

South Korea celebrated its first Liberation Day Aug 15, 1945.

To mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, the Indian embassy in Seoul organised a joint celebration of India and South Korea's independence days.

India's Ambassador Vishnu Prakash hoisted the tricolour. The envoy read out excerpts from President Mukherjee's message to the nation.

A cultural programme organised by the Indian Cultural Centre at the embassy and the Indian community in Seoul featured Korean artists performing Kathak, Oddisi and yoga.

An Indian bazaar displaying handicrafts, traditional decorative "henna", Indian dolls and dresses was also inaugurated by the ambassador.

Also, Bollywood movie "Veer Zaara" with Korean sub-titles was screened on this occasion.

According to the embassy, the Indian community in South Korea is estimated at 7,500. Most of them are businessmen, IT professionals, scientists, research fellows, students and workers.

In the US, the Indian community celebrated Independence Day with gusto joining flag-unfurling functions at the Indian missions as they geared to hold colourful parades and cultural functions over the weekend.

Some 250 members of the community joined Thursday's official celebration in Washington where Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao unfurled the national flag at her residence and read out President Mukherjee's message to the nation. A cultural programme followed.

Similar events were held at Indian Consulates in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta and the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

Meanwhile, several community groups are gearing up to organise parades and festivals in various cities from New York to Chicago to Stamford, Connecticut. India's anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare will be lead the largest India Day Parade in America in Manhattan next Sunday.

Now in its 33rd year, the parade -- organised annually by the Federation of Indian Associations -- will also feature Bollywood film star Vidya Balan as grand marshal and Sarath Kumar and Raddhila as other guests of honour.

Parades are also planned for Chicago and Hicksville, New York. Festivities include vibrant cultural programmes, henna artists, exhibition and booths for Indian clothes and jewellery, children's rides and Indian food.

Meanwhile, on this joyous day, India gifted Nepal 20 ambulances and four buses to various hospitals, non-profit organisations and educational institutions in Nepal.

Indian Ambassador to Nepal Jayant Prasad hoisted the national flag and read out the address by President Mukherjee at a function held in the embassy premises.

The Indian ambassador presented 14 ambulances and three buses to recipient organisations from 16 districts in Nepal. The remaining six ambulances and one bus were gifted by the Consulate General of India in Birgunj to organisations under its consular jurisdiction.

Ambassador Prasad also presented books to 50 educational and training institutions located across Nepal.

Since 1994, India has gifted 402 ambulances to various organisations across 70 districts in Nepal.

"This has helped in bringing healthcare services to the doorstep of thousands of people who do not have access to such services," said a statement from the embassy.

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