10 minutes after we reached Oak Tree Road, New Jersey, the venue for the 66th Independence Day parade , my 6 year old daughter complained of a headache. No not because of the heat and certainly not because she was trying to find an excuse not to walk, but because of the loud music played by the floats that took part in the parade. Sheila ki Jawani, Gagnam style were some of the popular numbers, along with the occasional A.R Rahman’s vandemataram – but after the floats passed, she was feeling better and we resumed the walk again.
During the parade she asked me “Why do we celebrate Independence Day?” – I replied (as if i knew everything about this) “We celebrate to remember the sacrifice and honor the heroes who fought the British to win us our Independence”. My daughter immediately said, “No daddy, that’s not why we celebrate. We celebrate because we have earth – earth is where all people live, the plants and the animals. If there was no earth, there would be no independence day”.
She said this and continued the parade – while i was dumb-struck. I thought to myself, if we adults had such simplistic views of everything, India would have been a better place, the world would have been a place and to echo my daughter’s views, the earth would have been a better place.
For the past 2 years, Indians in New Jersey, had the unfortunate pleasure of witnessing two parades at the same venue, just because the two organizing groups or i should say the powerful people behind them could not put aside their ego’s and differences even for the sake of the country. So they compromised and the compromise was that
- first year, they made the parade shorter such that the ending of one parade becomes the beginning of the parade
- second year, they had the parade at the same venue but at different times
While both the business groups achieved what they wanted i.e. having their own parades, the result was that there was the diversity with no unity.
Independence Day Parade at the very least should remind people of the great sacrifices, the unity and courage with which our freedom fighters fought and this is probably the only day we talk about these things anyways. Instead the parade in New Jersey reminds how people are fighting over who gets to organize these parades and we are so good at fighting amongst ourselves (fight over caste, religion, sex ) we continue to fight no matter where we are and who we are.
Obviously blogging is not going to solve this problem and I’m not suggesting that either. I’m sure the two parades for one country by distinct business groups is hurting you as much as it is hurting me. We could all come together to do a signature campaign and sit down with the two business associations to request them forge an alliance at least for the sake of the country.