The 18,500 people with the much-sought-after tickets to the event lined up in a queue stretching several street blocks, as others milled around in a futile hope for tickets.
Entertaining them were several groups. Women in glittering saris performed garba dance. Members of the Tibetan community put up a yak dance performance. Drummers beat out a frenetic rhythm and conch-blowers blew auspicious notes.
New Jersey Transit ran special trains for the people coming to the reception organised by the Indian American Community Foundation. And, PATH subway system switched to weekday service in order to increase train frequency to handle the large crowds of commuters.
Across the street from the Madison Square Garden, some groups banding together under the banner of Alliance for Justice and Accountability, held a protest with about 50 people. They carried signs denouncing Hindutva and demanding the reinstatement of the visa ban on Modi.
Further uptown, in Times Square which bills itself as the crossroads of the world, giant TV screens were to broadcast the reception for those who could not score the 18,500 tickets issued through a lottery for event. More than 30,000 people had applied online for tickets to the event.