NEW YORK, Aug 16 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Against the backdrop of rising tensions between India and Pakistan over India’s August 5 abrogation of Article 370 on Kashmir, India held a series of celebrations through the east coast to mark its 73rd Independence Day on Aug 15.
Both the Indian permanent mission to the United Nations and the Indian consulate general in New York – the latter serves a large consular constituency embracing several states on the east coast – held flag-hoisting ceremonies on their respective premises accompanied by cultural programmes and Indian dances representing the country’s ethnic and linguistic diversity.
Indian permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, Syed Akbaruddin hoisted the national Indian flag at the mission’s premises in the presence of the mission’s staff, their families, friends, etc.
Later, at the Indian consulate general In New York, Indian consul general Sandeep Chakravorty read out the Independence Day message of the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind before a large gathering of Indians and Persons of Indian Origin who had, earlier, witnessed the hoisting of the Indian national flag by Chakravorty on the road outside the consulate building amid strict security provided by the host city.
Indeed, an entire section of entire 64th Street, from the Fifth Avenue to Madison Avenue, was closed down to traffic so that the consulate could hold the flag-hoisting ceremony and an extensive cultural programme.
This is one of the busiest traffic spots in the city. The closure of a part of the street, as one New York police security official explained to Bernama, was necessitated because of “security, protocol and space considerations”.
In the message read out by Chakravorty, Indian President Kovind updated the gathering on the developments taking place in India – from the abrogation of Article 370 on Kashmir through various reforms instituted in the country to the vision of creating a prosperous India offering all the amenities to its citizens.
The Indian consulate general had extended an “open invitation” through local media, social media and its website to all Indians, including U.S. citizens of Indian origin, as well as friends of India to attend the event.
One of the main attractions at the consulate’s celebrations was the presence of Bollywood actor Anupam Kher and also several elected U.S. politicians as New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Kevin Thomas, Assemblyman David Weprin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, all of whom addressed the crowds and extended greetings to India and its citizens.
There was also a large turnout of representatives of the Consular Corps who came to extend the good wishes of their countries to Indian consul general Sandeep Chakravorty.
The celebrations included a festival of Indian dance and a large number of cultural presentations including recital of poetry.
Amongst them were Bharatanatyam by Nandini Chakravorty, Malini Sreenivasan and Sophia Salingaros, dance and music by a children’s group ‘Sreeshti’ of New Jersey, national and patriotic songs by Bengali Kids of Princeton Area, poetry and music by students of Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Manipuri Dance and Pung Cholam by troupe led by Ms. Darshana Jhaveri, Odissio by Bani Ray with songs by RaiKishori Mitra, Kathak by Ms. Pranaame Bhagawati and Bhangra by Krishna Arts.
The Indian guests had been offered complimentary bus transportation from distant places such as Edison in New Jersey which has a large Indian community and is known for its cluster of Indian stores and supermarkets, eateries, etc.
But Indian associations elsewhere in the state – their numbers are proliferating – also organized their own Independence Day celebrations on different dates so as not to collide with the dates of celebrations in other parts of the state.
The Indian-American community on Long Island in New York, for example, had already organized on August 4 – eleven days earlier – the Independence Day celebration, accompanied by its 7th annual India Day parade. The parade paid tribute to India’s soldiers and farmers and celebrated the unity, heritage and cultural diversity of South Asians in America.
Several organizations from Long Island participated in the parade which included marching groups as well as floats.
To add glamour to the celebrations, the Long Island association had invited Bollywood actor Rajkumar Rao, to participate as the grand marshal of the parade; he was joined by other celebrities and local elected officials.