The Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band, which is the first Indian American traditional bagpipe band, recently performed with nearly 50 other bands from across North America, at the 19th annual Tartan Day Parade in New York City.
The Indian American band was certainly a standout in this year’s parade lineup, sporting a traditional Scottish bagpipe uniform, uniquely accompanied by traditional Indian elements. Thousands dotted the parade route on Sixth Avenue and cheered on as the band entertained with Indian melodies and Scottish favorites.
Members from the non-profit organization, Round Hill Highland Games, said about the band: “Got to hand it to this band – they piped the whole length of the parade route with a lot of pep in their step.”
Parade organizers from NYC Tartan Week agreed with Round Hill Highland Games’ statement, saying “They sure did! Pure enthusiasm! Awesome to see different cultures embrace the pipes and drums!”
The band, which is the first international Hindu Indian traditional Scottish bagpipe band, comprises of 214 members from the U.S., the U.K., Kenya, and India. Featuring bagpipes, snare drums, bass drums, and tenor drums, the band’s repertoire consists of Scottish tunes, patriotic tunes, and cultural melodies. Band members travel to perform at parades, religious events, cultural expositions, and charity performances across the world. The band comprises students, entrepreneurs, physicians, lawyers, doctorates, and other professionals, ranging from ages 10-50.
The Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band uses the medium of music to personify the mission of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, an international non-profit Hindu religious organization, which promotes spiritual, cultural, and social welfare across the world.
The band’s earlier branches in Nairobi and London were founded by Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa himself after he enjoyed hearing the sounds of bagpipes during a tour of the U.K. Swamibapa’s spiritual heir, H.D.H. Acharya Swamishree Purushottampriyadasji Maharaj, followed in his guru’s footsteps and founded the newer branches of the band in Bolton, Mass., and India. In December 2015, during the 60th anniversary celebrations of the band’s Nairobi branch, Acharya Swamishree brought all five bands together and established one united international band in honor of his guru.