Actor and politician Kamal Haasan, his daughter Shruti Haasan and legendary West Indian cricketer Vivian Richards will headline the India Day parade here next month that will bring people of diverse communities and ethnicities together for the largest parade outside India to mark the country's Independence Day.
The 38th India Day Parade, organised by the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) - New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, will be held on August 19 and will run through several streets of Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, featuring tableaux by various Indian-American organisations, marching bands, police contingents and cultural performances by young Indian-American children.
Srujal Parikh, the current President of the FIA, told PTI that Haasan will be the Grand Marshal at the parade, while Shruti and Richards will be the Guests of Honor. Eminent Indian artists Kailash Kher and Shibani Kashyap will also be among the special guests at the parade, Parikh said.
Parikh said given the overwhelming response to the parade, he expects about 150,000 people to attend this year's cultural extravaganza, which will feature 35 floats and 30 marching contingents as well as dance performances such as Bihu and Lavani showcasing India's regional diversity.
Parikh said the parade's central message will be 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - the world is one family,' and will bring together for the first time communities from other South Asian and Caribbean nations. Ministers and diplomats from countries like Antigua, Sri Lanka and Nepal are expected to attend the parade.
Parikh, an IT manager in the New York Police Department and trustee of the NYPD Indian Police Officers organisation, said the city's police department will also participate in the parade. He added that New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill is a strong believer of community policing that brings the police department close to the people and helps lower crime. He added that Indian Officers Society in the NYPD will also be part of the parade.
Emphasising the parade's strong contribution in bringing the next generation of Indian-Americans closer to India's cultural and heritage, Parikh said through the parade and celebration of Indian festivals, "we are passing on our heritage to the next generation."
Every year, thousands of people from the Indian diaspora converge in the heart of Manhattan in their traditional finery to celebrate India's Independence Day.
The daylong celebration also includes special food stalls, cultural extravaganza and floats by various Indian organizations based in the US. Popular celebrities and artists from India are invited every year as chief guests and grand marshals for the parade.
In previous years, actors Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan, Baahubali' actors Rana Daggubati and Tamannaah Bhatia, Sunny Deol and Raveena Tandon have attended the parade. The parade, which is the world's largest India Day parade outside India, will reach 1.4 million viewers who will watch it live.