The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut (FIA Tristate), created history on August 15, 2020 by unfurling the Indian tricolor for the first time ever at the iconic Times Square in New York City, to commemorate India’s 74th Independence Day.
It was the first time that such an event was held at the ‘crossroads of the world’ said FIA in a press release.
Hundreds gathered at the location and chants of “Vande Mataram” and “Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” reverberated through Times Square where Indian Consul General Randhir Kumar Jaiswal joined Indian-American community leaders, representatives from Indian-American community organizations, and members of the media came.
Consul General Jaiswal, unfurled the Indian flag. He was accompanied by his wife Abha Jaiswal, Deputy Consul General Shatrughna Sinha and his entire team at the Consulate General of India in New York.
In his address, Consul General Jaiswal highlighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day message delivered from New Delhi’s majestic Red Fort, where he spoke of the way forward for India, and aspirations of building a new India.
The celebration of India’s Independence Day in the U.S. is a symbol of the strong relations between the U.S. and India, he said.
Others who spoke at the flag hoisting event were grand sponsor Kenny Desai, Deepak Patel of Dunkin Donuts, and Sethuraman of Incredible India who congratulated FIA on the historic event and wished everyone present on the occasion of India’s 74th Independence Day.
FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya thanked all the sponsors and his team and the members of the Board of Trustees as well FIA’s senior advisors, Padma Shri Dr. Sudhir Parikh and Padma Shri Dr. H.R. Shah, for making the event a grand success.
Dr. Parikh told Desi Talk and ITV Gold, it was “a very historic event” adding, “This is the first time we have done this at Times Square which is the most known address in the world; and that too in the midst of a pandemic!”
“It was a great achievement, and we must congratulate FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya, President Anil Bansal, and others in the FIA team for organizing it, as well as Consul General Jaiswal for being at the event. There was a lot of excitement among us and also all the passers-by got to see India’s Independence day being celebrated,” Dr. Parikh said. “All Indian-Americans should try to contribute to the Motherland, and encourage our next generation to do so as well.”
Vaidya recognized the support of the Consulate General of India in New York, as well as that of Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio and his entire staff, as well as the New York Police Department and the Fire Department.
Along with the first ever celebrations on Times Square, the FIA, in continuing with its annual tradition of illuminating the Empire State Building in tricolors – orange, white and green – to mark India’s Independence Day.
“The Times Square flag hoisting ceremony is a testament to the Indian American community’s growing patriotism and is a fitting tribute to the FIA which is celebrating its golden jubilee year,” organizers said in the press release.
Established in 1970, FIA is one of the largest umbrella organizations in the Indian community. Since 1981, the FIA has been organizing its flagship event – the annual India Day parade, which showcases India’s rich cultural heritage and history and is attended by tens of thousands of people on Madison Ave.
“I, along with my FIA family, team members and the patriotic community, share the joy and pride of such an historic celebration here in the New York area and back home in India,” FIA President Anil Bansal said.
He noted how for the last 40 years, FIA celebrated with the India Day Parade.
“However, this year due to the unprecedented havoc created by the COVID-19 pandemic globally, the FIA, in the interest of the community and in following the guidelines of the city, had to cancel the India Day Parade,” he said.
“This year, FIA added another milestone in its glorious accomplishments by organizing for the first time, the hoisting of India’s tricolor, at the iconic, Times Square,” Bansal said.
Indian American organizations which participated in this year’s event were Society of Indo American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA), National Association of Asian Indian Christians (NAAIC), Shri Guru Ravi Dass Sabha of New York, Maharaja Darshan Das Charitable Trust, Siddhendra Kuchipudi Art Academy, Telangana American Telugu Association, Telugu Association of North America, Association of Indians in America, Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America, Telugu Literal and Cultural Association, Siddhendra Kuchipudi art Academy, Telugu Fine Arts Society, Marathi Vishwa, Siddhi Vinayak Temple Toms River,N.J., The Association of Indians in America, N.Y., and the Jackson Heights Merchants Association.
Sponsors of the event included Kenny Desai, Dunkin Donuts and Incredible India as well as the Empire State Building Trust Inc.
(Updated on Aug. 17, 2020)