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PHOTOS: Anna, Rani and India glam up NYC

Last updated on: August 22, 2011 20:42 IST

Anna, Rani and India glam up NYC

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George Joseph in New York

The overflow of energy and enthusiasm from the youth for Anna Hazare and the movement against corruption was the highlight of the India Day Parade in New York City.

Slogans and billboards, marches and speeches by those who assumed leadership roles for the moment and people wearing Anna topi (cap) and stickers saying 'I am Anna' made the 31st parade by the Federation of Indian Associations of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut, an unforgettable event.

A sea of humanity descended Sunday noon on Madison Avenue between the 38th street and 23rd street in the heart of Manhattan carrying Indian flags, for the annual ritual.

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Image: A young Indian American waves the tricolour
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/Rediff.com
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But this time the tone was set by the youth.

Irrespective of party lines, young and old showed their support for the fight accepting billboards or Anna caps from the youth.

"We have no party affiliations. Our aim is a corruption free India. We accept the support of anyone," Atul Kumar, one of the organisers said.

The 'India Day Parade', organised by the Federation of Indian Associations, saw Bollywood stars and politicians rub shoulders with the Indian population living in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as Madison avenue was flooded in shades of the Indian tricolour.

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Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare make their vouice heard

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Actress Rani Mukherji was the grand marshall for the parade, which is touted as the biggest Indian parade in the US.

Noted classical singer Pandit Jasraj, actor Gulshan Grover and singer Shibani Kashyap were also present at the parade that ran for 10 blocks in the heart of New York city.

Supporters of Hazare's Lokpal bill also turned out in large numbers for the 'Walk Against Corruption'.

Wearing the 'Anna cap', the supporters waived banners and placards and shouted slogans of 'Remove corruption, save India', 'Enact strong Lokpall bill', 'We want Jan Lokpal', 'We are with you Anna Hazare' and 'India is with you, the world is with you Anna.'

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Image: In support of Anna Hazare and his cause

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Vamsi Veeramachaneni of the 'India Against Corruption' organisation said that Indians living abroad are "frustrated" to see the growing level of corruption in India.

"All the Indians have gathered here to support Anna Hazare as he represents the future of a corrupt free country. We want to see a corruption-free India. We have had independence for over 60 years and we are yet to tackle corruption, which continues to be the biggest problem in the country," he said.

Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is of Indian descent, was the guest of honour at the parade.

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Image: Grand Marshal Rani Mukherji

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Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar was the chief guest last year.

This is the second year in a row that the head of another Caribbean nation, Guyana, with a large population of Indian diaspora, joined the parade.

President Jagdeo has been awarded the the "Pravasi Bharatiya Samman" by the Government of India.

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Image: A float depicting the Mahatma

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The parade comprised floats by US-based Indian organisations and dance performances showing the cultural diversity of India.

Mukherji waived out to the crowd and said it was "fabulous" to see Indians living abroad celebrate their independence day with such fervour.

Seeing the large turnout of Indian-Americans at the parade, Mukherji said she felt as "if I am in India today."

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Image: Punjabi folk dancers

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Mukherji attracted some criticism as her participation turned out to be more of symbolic one. For most events she came late.

On the float that carried the FIA leaders and main guests, she was standing behind other guests and few people could notice her presence. She was seen doing some make up frequently even on the parade review stand. She brought her make up man with her, it is said.

To the review stand she came late and left early, even when the parade was still not over. Usually, Grand marshals remain at the review stand on 28th Street till the parade winds up.

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Image: Rani waves to the audience

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FIA said Mukherji will preside over a ceremony at the Empire State building where the tower of the iconic New York building will light up in colours  of the Indian flag.

Mukherji will also ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange on Monday.

Last year, actress Preity Zinta had rung the bell at the exchange in Times Square.

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Image: Classical singer Pandit Jasraj

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The parade's official theme was 'My Earth, My Home' and sought to raise awareness about environmental pollution.

Aniyan George from New Jersey, who was in the float of the Indian National Overseas Congress, wore an Anna cap.

He went to the youth group and spoke against corruption.

"Corruption should not have any place in our national life. This is not a political issue but a national issue," he said.

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Image: The Brahmakumaris float

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Vishnu Ravule, who is working in New Jersey, said he is ready for any sacrifice for the success of Anna Hazare's movement. He came to the US three years ago.

Chaitanya Patange, a medical student here, who came two and a half years ago, said if the fight is lost now, it will not be won in several years. Both have no doubt that Hazare will be the winner at the end.

The parade was noted for the large number of colorful floats and the people marching under the banners of different organisations. But compared to the earlier years, the sidewalks were not as crowded.

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Image: A dance performance

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Another parade was happening almost the same time in Edison, New Jersey, which was postponed from last Sunday, due to heavy rains.

There were fears of heavy rains during the New York parade.

True to the diversity of India, cultural and religious groups along with businesses came out with floats with different themes.

The march by Brahmakumaris was led by women dressed as goddesses. Hindu groups, Sikhs and Christians had floats. Muslims were noted for their absence.

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Image: Indian dance forms on display

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Emily Shah, Miss Teen India-Worldwide, said the parade is not a ritual but it brings all of us together. It celebrates the Indian culture and creates awareness among others.

The South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association marched in the parade with few members.

Last year, they created news as the organizers initially denied them a permit to march in the parade.

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Image: Indian Americans on an open top bus

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