By Mark Hallum
An event celebrating the 69th Indian Independence Day was hosted by Bruhud New York Seniors at Sri Saneeswara Temple in Queens village Monday, where elected officials sat in on songs of nationalism and spoke about the contributions of the Indian population to the community and the success of India as a democracy.
City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Assemblyman Mike Miller presented a proclamation to the Bruhud New York Seniors organization coordinators Shashikant Patel and Gopi Udeshi.
The Indian Independence Act of 1947 was passed in British parliament after years of failed attempts to partition the Indian subcontinent. partition. The South Asian nation lived under colonial rule for over nearly two centuries. Now, Indian communities in Queens have been celebrating both the success of their native country to break from the foreign control and establish a new democracy, but also the new lives they have made in the United States.
“[Bruhud New York]’s outreach to seniors in the Indian community is special,” Miller said. “It was great to see so many people turn out to celebrate this joyous occasion. I was delighted to present a proclamation for the 70th Independence Day celebration in which India and the United States share a common bond as two largest democracies on earth.”
Some in attendance put their patriotic spirit on display by wearing shirts depicting the current prime minister, Narendra Modi, whose support from those who elected him has resulted in a heightened sense of nationalism. The temple is located at 95-30 225th St.
Grodenchik said he was proud to have been able to secure $100,000 in funds for Indian seniors and to have marched in the India Day Parade on Hillside Avenue Saturday.
According to Weprin, his Assembly district has the largest Indian population in the state.
“The Indian-American community here in Queens is not only the heart of Indian culture and has contributed so much to the culture of New York City, but it’s also the heart of the small business community and the medical community,” Weprin said. “They’ve contributed economically to the business climate.”
Patel was passionate about the positive course his native country has in light of the development of neighboring nations in Asia.
“Although we are surrounded by China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have managed to keep our democracy alive,” he said, adding the celebration with elected officials was an expression of his desire to help integrate the Indian community into the American system.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall