Over 40,000 people, mostly Indian Americans, attended the Indian Business Association’s 15th annual India Day Parade Aug. 11 in New Jersey. The parade, which ran from Edison to Iselin, included over a dozen floats, ethnic bands, dance groups and representatives from over 100 New Jersey-based organizations. There was also a cultural show which was held at the end of the parade route and featured a number of local artists.
Governor Phil Murphy, who joined the festivities, acknowledged the Indian American community’s contributions to the state. “New Jersey is proud to be home to one of America’s largest, most deeply rooted Indian American communities,” he was quoted as saying in a press release. “The many faces of our Indian American community enrich our state in countless ways. I was honored to march alongside our Indian American brothers and sisters during the India Day Parade and celebrate the strong bond between New Jersey and India.”
With official estimates placing the crowd size at a little under 45,000, the parade was the largest yet, according to the organizers. “We just got to make sure we keep it strong - the more people we get, it gets bigger year after year and we’re excited to be a part of it. So anything we can do to help continue that we’re more than happy and invested to do it,” said Edison Council president Alvaro Gomez.
“I support IBA, the IBA is great for the Indian community. This parade is fabulous, and just watching the fans, spectators or whatever you want to call them, and you can see how much it means to them,” said Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey. “You can see the passion in the community and thinking of back home.”
Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac joined Lankey in his praise for the parade and spoke of the similarities between the democracies of the U.S. and India. Other dignitaries present at the parade included Congressman Frank Pallone and Senator Samuel Thompson.
Several stakeholders and policymakers, including the governor, discussed the importance of the Indian American community and India’s ties to the local economy.
“I look forward to deepening this relationship as I prepare for my economic mission trip to India in September. I am confident that our efforts will foster deeper bonds between our people, and new opportunities for investment and growth in the Garden State,” said Murphy.
Thomas Coughlin, CEO of BCB Indus American Bank, said, “We think the Indian community is the fastest growing community in the Tri State Area and the businesses synchronize very well together.”
Others noted the growth of the Indian American population across New Jersey.
“Like Edison we have a large Indian community and for me, one of the most important things and gratifying things is the fact that we have such a diverse community that is made up of people from a lot of different backgrounds. The Indian community is very important to us – they contribute to the growth of the township and we are out here supporting you the way we’ve supported our community. I think it’s the right place to be and I’m thrilled to be here,” said East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen.
“It takes many people to bring this event together… It is a diverse group of people with a common purpose,” said Dhiren Amin, president of IBA.
Diversity and inclusion were the themes of the event.
“Well I’m here at the parade and I’ve been here since the first parade we’ve ever had in Edison. I support the Independence Day for India, I support that the IBA does this every year…And that’s what this is all about – it’s about inclusion, it’s about getting everybody together. It’s about understanding other ethnicities and what their cultures are like and it’s so important that we blend together. That’s what makes us so strong,” said Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak.
His sentiments were echoed by Middlesex County Sheriff Mildred Scott.
“I’m here today to support the Indian community and the IBA for everything they do. I think (parades) affect community in a large way. Sometimes people don’t realize there’s different diversities and something like this does bring it out to show there’s different diversities. And you meet and you greet and you have an opportunity to talk and talk about different cultures,” she said.