Edison/Iselin, NJ - Hundreds of marchers, 107 New Jersey based Indo-American Associations, three marching bands, and 26 floats paraded before a crowd of 37,000 individuals waiving American and Indian flags as they all celebrated India’s 64th year of Independence. The Indian Business Association (IBA), in collaboration -with the New Jersey Federation of Indian Associations, and other business, cultural, and religious groups, hosted this magnificent event. The parade route, a one mile march on Oak Tree Road , starting in Edison and ending in Iselin , was lined with cheering onlookers of all ages.
This is the 7th year the Indian Business Association has hosted the event. Oak Tree Road , also known as “ New Jersey ’s Little India”, is the center of this tradition. “This is the first major event in tri-state area, and all Indian Americans joined today at the heart of our community to celebrate our tradition, heritage, and culture” declared an exuberant Chandrakant Patel, the President of the IBA. August 15th is India ’s Independence Day and this event has traditionally kicked off a week of celebrations in the New York/New Jersey area.
Heading the ceremonies was Grand Marshall and Bollywood Superstar Mallika Sherawat. “We love Mallika, she is so beautiful and she gave a great speech” said Sangita Patel. Ms. Sherawat gained exposure in the U.S. for her latest Hollywood film “Politics of Love.” Also in attendance were Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, Congressman Frank Pallone, and dozens of other elected officials.
“This is about our history and our future and a reminder of the great potential we hold” said Mahesh Shah, past President of the IBA. The IBA represents the Edison-Iselin business district and in January was recognized by the New Jersey State Senate for its work in the community, which has included promoting the area, securing free public parking, and mass voter registration drives. The IBA is a non-profit organization.
Over 150 volunteers help make the parade possible. “We could not do this without the support of Edison Mayor Ricigliano, Woodbridge Mayor McCormac, and the towns’ police/fire departments” emphasized Manher Shah, the IBA’s immediate past president. Council President Major, speaking on behalf of Woodbridge Township and Edison Councilman Dr. Prasad reminded the crowd of the value the Indo-American community has added.
The festivities concluded with a cultural fair on the grounds of St. Cecilia’s Church in Iselin. Various musical artists performed. Also performing were several children dance troupes.