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By Kiran Rizvi: Edison, NJ 11 August 2019 After a string of protests in New York City this past weekend outside the Indian consulate, a small suburb of the bustling
city with an impressive population of Indians, Pakistanis, and others from the subcontinental diaspora commemorated th
e 72nd year of India’s independence from Britain. Edison’s famous “Little India” was lined with locals from Edison, families from all over Central Jersey, and special guests who flew in from India. The streets were decorated with Indian flags everywhere—saffron, white, and green, denoting courage and sacrifice, peace and truth, and faith and chivalry with India’s beloved icon Ashoka Chakra in the middle. The Ashoka Chakra is India’s traditional textile spinning loom: a symbol of the Indian revolution and Gandhi’s goal of making Indians self-reliant to support a boycott of British goods.
Attached to these flags were energetic, patriotic families, honored guests, or intricate floats, classic Indian music blasting from the speakers, the beat of the dhol never too far off.
The first of the honored guests took her place on the stage. The Telegu film industry star, Monal Gajjar, charmed Edison’s guests, especially appealing to her Gujarati fans. She encouraged
fans to dance with her, sing patriotic Indian songs, and take pictures. Gajjar’s film “Reva” won the Best Film honor at the 66th National Film Awards in the past year. She was later joined on stage by fellow star and close friend Sonu Sood, who slowly made his way through the crowd as he stopped taking pictures and dancing with fans.
Upon being appointed the Grand Marshal for the India Day Parade, Sood remarks, “People come from New York, New Jersey, and all these neighboring states. All the top bureaucrats, ministers, mayors… everyone is present and they honor you for what you have done. A lot of my friends are flying from different parts of the US to be there. I’m sure it’s going to be rocking. It’s a proud moment I would say.” The Bollywood star is awaiting the release of his Kannada film “Kurukshetra”.
Once the actual parade began, bright green and orange float lit up Oak Tree Road. Over 38,000 people were lined up to see colorful celebrations put on by the sponsors, with floats from ShopRite, TV Asia, and the SriVari Balaji Temple. The main sponsor, the Indian Business Association, not only paraded its own float but organized the whole event.
The words “Bharat Mata ki Jai“–or, Victory to Mother India, echoed everywhere. Organizers of the event thanked the local Central Jersey Indian community, those who had left the land they had known and decide to not only make a life here but build a community.
The parade was then followed by a cultural arts celebration, with songs and dances to commemorate Indian culture. The parade was concluded by the IBA gathering together onstage to sing classical Indian songs to bid the audience farewell.