New York India Day Parade honours Mahatma's principles

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New York, Aug 17 (UNI) The India Day Parade here this year will honour the Apostle of Peace and the Father of the Nation -- Mahatma Gandhi.

Film star Deepika Padukone would lead the parade which is considered the largest outside India while Chairman of Kingfisher Airlines Vijay Mallya would be the chief guest.

Federation of Indian Associations (tristate) held a press conference yesterday on the eve of the parade. Yash Paul Soi, the president of the federation, explained that about 35 floats would form part of the parade, which would go through nearly 20 blocks in Manhattan.

The six-hour event would have a review stand, where patriotic songs were sung and proceedings were explained.

Soi, a longtime resident of the US, was once described by the New York Times as the cultural ambassador of India. He recalled the origins of the federation and early years of the parade during which only small crowds used to be present.

''The parade has grown bigger and bigger and it is now the biggest of its kind outside India,'' he noted.

To a question, he pointed out that many younger people have taken over key talks in the organisation. ''About 150 volunteers who are hardly paid anything have worked on the parade since January to make it a success,'' Soi said.

It is customary that FIA parades are led by filmstars in order to attract maximum participation of Indians, particularly younger ones.

And every year, the parade has a theme.

''This year, the parade will honour the Apostle of Peace and the Father of the Nation -- Mahatma Gandhi,'' Soi said. ''The parade will be dedicated to nonviolence and peace on earth,'' he added.

The India Day parade, which began in 1981, attracts mainly Indians, but others too are attracted because of cultural aspects and ethnic food.

Padmabhushan Manna Dey would entertain the crowd with patriotic songs on the occasion, Soi stated.

Dr Sudhir Parikh, a former FIA president, said 80 per cent of the attendees would be younger Indian-Americans. ''They may not know Hindi and other Indian languages. But they enjoy Bollywood films and music. And they love to see the movie stars,'' he added.

Deepika Padukone, who was also present at the press conference, said she was amazed to see the popularity of Hindi films outside India.

Deepika, who was introduced to Hindi films with 'Om Shanti Om', said she was happy to know that she was recognised in China, Japan and other countries.


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