Thousands Honor Indian Freedom from British Rule in Midtown

By Jess Wisloski and Paul Lomax  on August 20, 2012 12:55am

MIDTOWN — India may have become an independent nation 65 years ago, but the elation of ending 350 years of British rule was alive and well in Midtown Sunday, as the annual Indian Independence Day Parade took to the streets.
 
Thousands lined Madison Avenue to enjoy the festivities, which honor the August 15, 1947 day that India broke free and became its own nation.
 
People wore traditional costumes and waved the Indian flag of orange, white and green as the parade moved from Madison Avenue and East 38th Street down to the East Village.
 
Traditional and modern Indian tunes filled the air, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn helped lead the parade.
 
Indian Bollywood actor and heartthrob Saif Ali Khan, 42, was the Grand Marshal, and waved to adoring fans on the street.

NYPD officer and Queens resident Khyume Khan 42, was glad to have his son Kamal Khan, 7, see the parade. "This is a very special day for all Indians to respect our heritage and culture of the motherland, and to march to celebrate our independence from the British," he said. 

Raj Walia, 36 and Dipti Ghosyal, 34, both from New Jersey, came together to attend.

"Today is a great day as all Indians come together. Every year we meet up with friends who come in from Boston and Philadelphia to celebrate with us. It's going to be a great night," said Walia. 
 
Meetup.com showed several of gatherings around the region, from Bollywood-themed galas, to carpools from surrounding states, organized over the weekend..
 
Bhupinder Singh Bhurji, the chairman of the Namdhari Sikh Foundation, said the parade, now in its 32nd year, remains a way for people to connect around a common idea.
 
"We started this non-violent movement 80 years before our country became independent from British rule," he said, speaking of the early efforts for freedom. "So today is a very special day. It is wonderful to see so many people here."

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