Parades mark Indian Independence Day in America

New York, Aug 13 (IANS) Indians in America are celebrating India's Independence Day with parades with colourful floats and entertainment programmes highlighting India's culture and heritage, and, of course, cuisine over the weekend.

Besides the largest annual parade in Manhattan in New York City, now in its 33rd year, set for next Sunday, some new parades, including one in Long Island, a New York suburb, and another in New Jersey, have also emerged in the last few years.

An estimated 15,000 people attended the parade held in Hicksville, the newest 'Little India' located in Nassau County, Sunday with Nassau county executive Ed Mangano, Bollywood actress Aarti Chhabria, and Miss USA 2005 Chelsea Cooley as main guests.

There were 17 floats including those of Air India, grocery stores chain Patel Brothers, and 30 booths including of banks and insurance companies.

"Being a patriotic Indian, I am honoured and proud to be the Grand Marshal at the India Day Parade of Long Island," said Chhabria as she broke into a jig along the parade route.

Even Cooley, dressed in an Indian outfit, showed her newly mastered Bollywood moves during the entertainment program.

The Long Island parade was telecast live by Global Punjabi TV. The South Asian Times was Platinum Sponsor & leading Media Partner.

Meanwhile in New Jersey it was a celebration of unity, organized by two groups who can't unite.

This year marked round three in the battle between Iselin based Indian Business Association (IBA), and Edison based Oak Tree Indian Business Association Inc. (OTIBA) to run Edison's annual India Day Parade.

Despite the dispute, thousands of Indian Americans straddled the border between Woodbridge and Edison to watch the duelling parades march down Oak Tree Road in Edison within half an hour of each other.

Music blared from floats during both parades, as dancers moved to the rhythm and Hare Krishna worshippers chanted.

Bollywood baddie Gulshan Grover and television actress Rashmi Desai led the IBA parade as Grand Marshals while Bollywood actor Shweta Bharadwaj did the honours for OTIBA parade.

The India Day Parade in Manhattan, organized annually by Federation of Indian Associations, is scheduled for next Sunday.

Besides the Bollywood film star Vidya Balan acting as grand marshal, a surprise guest of honour this time is anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.

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