Celebrations have already started in the US cities to honor India for its 76 Anniversary of Independence, being organized by the 4.5 million strong Indian American community. The Connecticut Chapter of the Global Organization (GOPIO-CT) had a highly successful celebration on August 6th with flag hoisting at the Stamford Govt Center, a ceremony with elected Connecticut officials and dignitaries, and a huge festival with dances and music of India at the Mill River Park in Stamford.
The Mill River Park in Stamford, CT on Sunday, August 6th wore a festive look as Indian Americans and other Americans gathered in large numbers to celebrate India’s 76th Independence Day with an annual India Day Festival. A floating crowd of over 3,000 people attended flag hoisting followed by the India Festival and Kite flying at the Mill River Park from 12 Noon to 4.00 pm. Dressed in colorful traditional Indian attire, with melodious music from the popular Bollywood world, dances depicting the wide variety of Indian culture, kite flying, spicy Indian cuisine, and booths decorated with Indian symbols and face art, the festivities were a treat to the fast-growing Indian American community in the state of Connecticut and New York’s Westchester County.
The day-long celebrations began with the hoisting of the American and Indian flags at the Stamford Government Center by Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons and Chief Guest India’s Deputy Consul General Dr. Varun Jeph. GOPIO CT President Dr. Jaya Daptardar hoisted the Connecticut State flag. American and Indian national anthems were sung by students of Stamford’s Hindi School.
Connecticut General Assembly issued a citation honoring the India Day Celebration and presented it to GOPIO-CT. The citation was initiated by State Rep. Mat Blumenthal, who could not be present due to a previously scheduled program. The citation was introduced by Rep. Blumenthal (147th Dist.), State Senator Patricia Billie Miller (27th Dist.), Rep. Tom O’ Dea (125th Dist.), Rep. Corey P Paris (145th Dist.), Rep. Anabel D. Figueroa (148th Dist.), Senator Ceci Maher (26th Dist.), Senator Ryan Fazio ((36th Dist.), Rep. Hubert D. Delany (144th Dist.), Rep. David Michel (46th Dist.), Rep. Corey P. Paris (145th Dist.) and Rep. Rachael Khanna (149th Dist.)
Following the flag hoisting, everyone moved to the adjacent Mill River Park for the inaugural ceremony at the Carousel Hall attended by Mayor Simmons, Deputy Consul General Dr. Jeph, several elected officials from the Connecticut General Assembly, heads of many non-profits and Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman of GOPIO International. There were vendors who served delicious Indian food, Indian arts and crafts, Indian clothing, and other items displayed at the Park giving a glimpse of India’s rich and diverse culture.
MC Sonali Zullerwar started the program with a rendition of Vande Mataram and introduced GOPIO-CT President Dr. Jaya Daptardar who in her speech said “Individuals must respect, diversity while working together for the community’s progress for a bright future and this encourages citizens to actively participate in efforts to overcome social challenges and contribute to making a bigger society.”
In regards to social activism in high school graduates, Dr. Jaya Daptardar indicated, “The role of youth is the driving force behind the community’s progress and development so the high school graduates are being awarded certificates and gift cards.”
In his remarks, GOPIO-CT Trustee/Advisor and Chairman of GOPIO International Dr. Thomas Abraham, a veteran community leader who was instrumental in starting numerous community and professional organizations said, “The India Festival in Stamford, CT is a tribute to a strong and vibrant Indian-American community that has excelled in almost all areas of life in this adopted nation of ours.”
Deputy Consul General Dr. Jeph complimented the Indian American community for its great contribution to the USA. He also said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was received at the White House in June by 8,000 Indian Americans at the Welcome Ceremony. Dr. Jeph further said that US-India relations are on the rise since both countries are the two largest democracies in the world.
High School graduates for area schools were honored with certificates and gift cards and was coordinated by GOPIO-CT Exec. Vice President Mahesh Jhangiani. Secretary Sushanth Krishnamurthy expressed the vote of thanks.
After 1 pm a 3-hour program of Indian cultural performances chaired by Mrs. Yashasvi Jhangiani, started with patriotic songs sung by singer Sreenivas Gunupuru. There were a variety of dances from all over India. MC for the cultural program was Sushmi Narayan.
Other activities included kite flying and free carousel rides sponsored by GOPIO CT Trustee Shelly Nichani. Indian delicacies were available from Tawa Indian Restaurant while vibrant sources of clothing and artifacts were available for sale.