Rana Daggubati was the Grand Marshal; Tamannaa Bhatia was one of the Chief Guests
Rana Daggubati of “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” fame was the Grand Marshal at the 37th India Day Parade in New York City which drew a crowd of 200,000 spectators on Sunday, Aug. 20.
“I have heard of things like this happening but what I saw yesterday, the streets of New York filled with Indian pride and joy, filled with the sound of my fans. Thank you all so very, very much,” said Daggubati, who was dressed in the traditional attire of a kurta and lungi, at the parade.
Tamannaah Bhatia, also of “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” fame and General Dalbir Singh Suhag, retired chief of Indian Armed Forces, were chief guests at the parade this year.
“I just want to thank the entire family of FIA for calling me here for this Independence Day Parade. It has honestly and truly been the best India Independence Day that I have experienced in 27 years,” said Bhatia, who was wearing a dress that matched the colors of the Indian flag at the parade.
Other guests of honor included Prof. Anand Kumar, a noted Indian mathematician; Captains Kshamta Bajpai, Sunita Narula, Indira Singh and Gunjan Agarwal, along with the entire all-women cabin crew of the Air India flight, which was noted to be the first and longest non-stop flight between Delhi and San Francisco and Ajit Mody, the chairman of New York-based Rajbhog Foods, as well as L. V. Revanth, the winner and Khuda Baksh, a top three finalist of Indian Idol Season 9.
All of the invited guests from India received plaques at the FIA India Day Parade Gala which was held the following day at Royal Albert’s Palace in Edison, New Jersey.
At the gala, the new Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty, along with Andy Bhatia, president of FIA, and Ramesh Patel, chairman of FIA spoke towards the occasion.
Bhatia thanked everyone for their support and showed the audience the highlights of the parade from the day before while Patel was extremely happy with the tradition that was being kept through the India Day Parade and he lauded the sponsors, board members of FIA and guests of honor, including the Grand Marshal.
“It was a really, really exhilarating experience. I want to thank the organizers and FIA because I think everybody has contributed in their own way to the success of the India Day Parade,” said Chakravorty who came rushing to New York just two weeks ago to participate in the world’s largest India Day Parade.
The Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio lauded the Indian American community at the India Day Parade.
“Thank you so much. It is an honor to be here to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the Indian-American community to this city. So, I want to say, first of all it’s a day to be proud of all that Indian-Americans have done to make New York City great. Thank you, everyone. Thank you for your great contributions,” he said in his speech.
“I want to thank the Federation of Indian Associations and I want to thank all the distinguished guests who are here – leaders from all over the tri-state area who have come here today to celebrate. Let’s give a big round of applause to all the leaders of the community who are here and also two elected officials are here who have been strong supporters of this community in so many ways. Let’s thank Assembly Member David Weprin and Council Member Danny Dromm,” he added.
“I always remind people, here in New York City, we have values we stand by. We are a city for everyone. We respect everyone and by the way, whenever you hear voices of hate speaking against immigrants, saying that somehow immigrants make us less safe, saying that immigrants take away jobs, tell them to come here to New York City. We have the strongest economy we’ve ever had. We are the safest big city in America,” he reassured the audience.
“My friends, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for celebrating and retaining your pride in your extraordinary origin. India means so much to the world today – one of the leading nations of the world and having such a big impact all over the world and we stand by India, united in a Democratic tradition, united in a pluralist tradition,” he continued in his speech.
“Two great nations; America and India, showing the world that democracy works for everyone. I want to declare, formally – I want to declare today, Sunday, August 20th, 2017 in the City of New York as New York City India Day Parade Day,” he said, concluding his speech.
This year the parade began around noon on 38th street and Madison Avenue with participants waving the Indian flag and marching to the chants of Vande Mataram until they reached 26th street.
There were about 28 floats, 27 walking groups and 38 food and sponsor booths which were set up on 26th street, between Park and Madison Avenues, while the cultural programs continued until 6 p.m. on Madison Avenue, between 24th and 26th streets.
The floats this year represented private groups, ranging from companies to spiritual organizations, including: FIA, Guru Govind Singhjee, Air India, India.com or ZEE TV, Haks, Pyaar.com, Dunkin Donuts, Parikh Worldwide Media LLC, TV Asia, Sony Television, Royal Albert’s Palace and TV9, Fazlani Foods, Rajsun Megastar Entertainment, Star TV, the Indian Consulate, the Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America, Global Haryana Chamber of Commerce, American Associations of Physicians of Indian origin, India Tourism, National Associations of Asian Indian Christian, Apna Ghar, Maharaz Darshan Das Charitable Trust and Daily News.