The 75th Indian Independence Day in North America will be celebrated with all the bells and whistles worthy of a nation that has withstood the tests of time, flourished and taken its rightful place amongst countries that were previously referred to as the First World.
Those of us abroad take immense pride in being Indians and never cease to remind those around us of our presence in mainstream society. All of the major festivals are celebrated in unison by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Dawoodis, Jains, Buddhists, et al. Then we take it a notch above when celebrating August 15th the Independence Day of India. Young and old make an effort to get to the Indian Culture Centre for the Flag Hoisting Ceremony where the local school band plays both the Indian and American National Anthem. We try to include a mayor and some local who’s of non-Indian origin so as to spread our pride in our identity and simultaneously score ground in the political arena. Every one of these celebrations is attended by the mass media with a full page coverage in the local newspaper which refers to the Indian immigrant community as highly respected with noticeable presence in the fields of medicine and engineering.
Just to give you an idea, all the major cities in the USA and Canada prepare for Independence Day at the start of the year when the agenda is laid out. A budget is allocated and invitations are sent out by the local India Culture Center Board to all the Indian regional communal groups, religious factions, young professionals and influencers. Everyone comes together to make a schedule of events for that day with eagerness and the participatory spirit is evident in their enthusiasm that guarantees a day full of joy.
This year the theme for Houston, Texas is: Wedding. All the attendees will try to dress in splendour like they are attending a wedding. All the different regions will showcase (on stage) how their traditional weddings are performed with priests, chants and holy water! The message this year is suggestive of building bridges through dance and song by including the Jewish, Nepalese and Indonesian entertainment groups to showcase the ancient ties these nations have with India and its culture. Booths will be set up for free Covid testing. Awards and Scholarships will be handed out to the merit worthy which will include non-Indians. The Federation of Indian Associations of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey will host similar celebrations with a different theme but will up the ante by unfurling the biggest tricolor at New York’s Time Square. As Covid restrictions ease in Canada the Greater Toronto area will observe this special day with a drive-thru parade hosted by Panorama India with at least 1,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, California is organizing a 2 day celebration starting at 5:30 pm on August 14th so as to coincide with the actual celebrations starting in India. Their theme is a mela-like atmosphere with rides and food.
Neighbours and co-workers are looking forward to this day and Indians are making every effort to accommodate them. If not for the pandemic and the restrictive numbers, I have no doubt that this year the attendance would have been diversely multi-colored. However, live television broadcasts will be viewed at national levels with a commentary on the progressive front of Incredible India. Such is the spirit of the North American Indians wishing to celebrate one of the most anticipated events of the year 2021 – the 75th Indian Independence Day!