Indian Independence Day is celebrated annually in the Bay Area. The festivities mark the day India gained its freedom after Britain had ruling the country for more than 200 years. Through the events planned before, during and after the parade, the local community is connected to Indian culture and history with lively and entertaining displays and performances. Thousands of residents come to watch the parade every year and honor this very important day in India's history.
A Brief History
On Aug. 15, 1947, India became a sovereign nation again. British control was handed over to the Constituent Assembly at midnight that day, thus forming the world's largest democracy. The first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, unfurled the Indian national flag and gave the famous speech, "Tryst with Destiny" at the Red Fort in Old Dehli. Every year, the current prime minister gives a speech and raises the flag in memory of the historic day. Indian Independence Day is celebrated in cities all over the world -- in addition to parades and festivals, people fly kites on August 15 to symbolize India's freedom.
The Indian Independence Day event in the Bay Area, called the Festival of India and Parade, is organized by Fremont-based Federation of Indian Associations (FIA). The FIA has over 40 member associations that put the parade and festival together. The festival is held in Fremont, and the parade begins on Liberty Street and ends on Walnut Avenue. Every year, the parade brings dignitaries from all over the world and also attracts Bollywood stars.
There are colorfully decorated floats, marching bands, dancers and carriages featured at the parade. A special guest grand marshal leads the way -- in 2010, Bollywood stars Arpita Mukerjee and Aftab Shivdasani acted as the grand marshals. The various floats showcase the Indian-American community, the different states of India and businesses. The parade usually begins at noon on the 15th of August.
The Festival of India and Parade also features displays that highlight various aspects of Indian culture. There are usually more than 100 booths with Indian cuisine, arts and crafts, clothes, jewelry and more. Often, the festivities for Indian Independence Day begin with the raising of the Indian flag a day or two before the parade. The events conclude with a banquet dinner on the evening of the 15th, which is held at a different location.