Mallika Sherawat glams up India Day parade
Braving 92-degree temperature, thousands of people waited agog for hours Sunday on the sidewalks of Oak Tree Road in Edison, New Jersey, for the annual India Day Parade that marked the country's 64h Independence Day.
People gathered since 12 pm on both sides of Oak Street from the start of the parade to end, a mile- long business district to watch the parade and to have a glimpse of Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat, who was the grand marshal for the parade.
Despite comments by some of the spectators like 'this is Indian Standard Time' a euphemism describing unpunctuality of any Indian event, people with kids in strollers and some children perched on their fathers' shoulders, stayed on both sides of the road till the event ended.
The crowd figures was estimated variously by the Chandrakant Patel, president of the Indian Business Association that organised the parade as somewhere near 40,000 and other veteran parade watchers, as somewhere around 20,000. But the crowd did not just consist of Indian Americans although they were indeed were the overwhelming majority.
Seen at the parade were some 25-odd colourful floats, including ones by Air-India, Western Union, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Friends of Gujarat, among others. There were marchers from religious and philanthropic groups like the Brahmakumaris, Jai Swaminarayan, and Mangalorean Catholic Association of East Coast.
One group of all Chinese marchers that seemed to catch the attention of people was by Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, which is a high-level cultivation practice guided by the characteristics of the universe --Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance. Many wondered why the group, which is banned in China, was invited to the Indian Day Parade.
A sweating Sherawat, dressed in off-white salwar kameez, had a trying time as she had to waive her hand constantly under scorching heat and shout out 'hail to India' thanks to her fans, who wanted to have a glimpse of her and even wanted to shale hand. Sherawat, standing on a five-foot tall podium stooped to accommodate the requests with some. Policemen and security guards from Middlesex County had a tough time to keep the enthusiastic fans at bay.
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Image: Mallika Sherawat waves to the New Jersey crowd
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi