HICKSVILLE,NY (TIP): The 2nd India Day Parade USA, in Hicksville, was taken out Sunday, August 11, 2013 under a benign Sun god who was pleased to bathe the participants in His silver light. Mercury hovered at around 80 but the heat was not oppressive, and let people venture out in thousands. There was enthusiasm writ large on the faces of the people who had come out to celebrate India on a fine August day.
The route from Patel Plaza on South Broadway to the destination in front of Asa Mai Hindu temple saw the presence of hordes of people who chose to stay at one point to look at the passing parade. At the head of the parade that started from Patel Plaza around 1 P.M. were the Grand Marshal Miss USA 2005 Chelsea Cooley, the not so well known film artist from Bollywood Aarti Chhabria, and the ever present and cherubic Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano, legislators, judges, officials, among others.
The parade with 17 ( as per list provided by the organizers) tastefully decorated floats and people in varied clothes from formals to casuals looked impressive all along. It moved on South Broadway across Old Country Road to North Broadway and terminated in the open grounds in front of Asa Mai Hindu temple where a stage was erected to showcase guests and deliver comments.
A little ahead one could get the ambience of an Indian fair, with 32 stalls (as per list provided by the organizers) selling or displaying all kinds of ware from food of different varieties to jewelry and modern gadgets, mostly cell phones and notebooks. On a specially erected spacious stage, singers and dancers performed to the great delight of the audiences who took the day long cultural program as a rare gift in their otherwise daily struggle for making money for today and tomorrow, for here and for back home.
Certainly, a relief to most people who hardly ever find time for such exotic cultural extravaganza. The performances rightly drew the applause of an appreciative audience. The BQ girls as also the Punjabi folk dancers drew repeated applause. DJ Kutcha, as usual, was at his best. Not only did he play the right tunes, he played the master of ceremonies with aplomb.
This young Sikh will go far should he continue to be so amiable and alert The Indian Panorama spoke with a number of gathered people to elicit their comments on the parade. Most felt happy to be at the parade. Nobody complained of any mismanagement or inconvenience. They all seemed to be satisfied with arrangements to provide water all along the route. Though we have recordings of their comments, we will not be able to publish them all here.
However, we are grateful to all we spoke with for their cooperation. Here are the pictures of some we spoke with. The common moan was the organizers downplayed the contribution of their benefactors. They did not recognize all the companies, businesses, organizations who had paid handsome amounts for each float. They were naturally disappointed that their contribution had not been recognized. In stead, “those in the good books of the organizers were not only mentioned or recognized, some were extolled to skies”, some said.
Certainly, a discriminatory attitude and practice, unworthy of a public organization. The promised Parade journal in which many had paid handsome money to advertise never showed up, to the disappointment of many advertisers I spoke to. One gentleman, upon condition of anonymity, told me he was expecting the journal to be distributed amongst thousands at the parade which would have brought him return for the amount he had invested in advertising but was disappointed. He said it amounted to cheating.
A journalist was upset to find that the promised plaques were not presented to the media. He said he had no plans to stay back until 3 P.M. but thought he would pick up his plaque. He wondered at the casualness of the organizers.
Whatever else, the India Day parade, the idea of which was conceived by a couple of residents of Long Island some 2 years ago, is believed to have been hijacked by Bobby Kumar, aka Karan “Bobby” Kumar, (I have heard many people naming the Hicksville India Day Parade “Bobby Parade”) a man who had risen from utter poverty in India and in USA to become a symbol of Indian American power and prosperity in the nineties and who then committed, in 2001, a mistake of faking his kidnapping for which he pleaded guilty and paid a fine to avoid a jail term.
That is part of the history now. He was written off by most people, including some of his friends. But Bobby rose, like phoenix from ashes, and repositioned himself in body social and political. I must admit, my admiration for the man grew, when I found him parading dozens of judges at event after events to sing his praises.
I wondered there must be something extraordinary in the man that judicious judges choose to attend his events. The Nassau County officials appear to be under his magic spell; not to speak of the lesser Indian American community leaders who probably find in Bobby a model to emulate. And surely, while others who contributed to the founding of the 2 year old India Day Parade USA sulk at being pushed back and ignored, Bobby Kumar enjoys his resurrection, albeit, with the hard work, imaginative planning and dedication of many.
It reminds me of Shakespeare’s words in Julius Caesar that may aptly express the feelings of many who are envious of Bobby, “Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus; and we petty men walk under his huge legs, and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves.” Nearer our times and area of common experience, it reminds me of the gang war in Mumbai, depicted so beautifully in many Bollywood movies, particularly in Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya, where gangs fight to edge each other out to have control over human and material resources with a view to wielding power.
They fight with brawn and brain. And here you witnessed a chessboard fight with brain alone which eliminated nearly all and left one and only one Bobby to claim the crown. Is there another Bobby Kumar?