"It's a way of saluting those who lost their lives" in the struggle for independence, said Ankur Vaidya, president of the Federation of Indian Associations, which organizes the annual India Day Parade in New York City told Newsday.
The 34th edition of the India Day Parade in New York City drew tens of thousands of spectators, several Bollywood stars and local elected officials, the local newspaper said.
Some men and boys wore tunic-like kafni pajamas in white symbolising peace.
One marcher dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, complete with walking staff. One float in the parade featured a replica of the 1 World Trade Centre tower linked by a bridge to a miniature Taj Mahal. "Bringing America and India together," the float read. "United we stand."
"Bollywood has never seen a parade this big outside of India!" federation chairman Ramesh Patel was quoted as saying.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who waved an Indian tricolour flag, applauded the South Asian community's commitment to education, one of his administration's priorities.
"The fabric of New York is defined by the parades we go to," Comptroller Scott M. Stringer told Newsday.
"This is such an exciting time I think for the South Asian community and the Indian community, because like so many other groups, they are coming of age politically, culturally and as a business community," he said.