International

SIKH BHANGRA AT THE BEAUTIFUL 2017 INDY 500 FESTIVAL PARADE

June 04, 2017 08:30 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (KANWAL PRAKASH SINGH)

Hoosier Sikhs proudly participated in the 2017 IPL 500 Festival Parade as part of Nationalities Council of Indiana (NCI) Parade Unit for the 9th year. Sikh ladies were in their fabulously brocaded silk Punjabi dresses and lehngas and men in sherwanis, kurtas, vests, and colorful turbans. Sikh Hoosiers invited a Bhangra Dance Group "Nachdi Jawani" from Toronto, Canada. The Sikh Educational and Cultural Society of The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis organized the 28 member-strong Hoosier Sikh group under the leadership of KP Singh, Maninder Walia, Chirjeev Oberoi, and NCI President, Carson C. Smith with support from many longtime Sikh participants. True to the Parade theme, "Accelerating the American Spirit," the NCI participants contributed dazzling cultural richness and ethnic pride to the Parade.

 
 
The featured photographs provide a glimpse of vibrant American spirit: beautiful costumes in a diversity of styles and fashions; images of people, dancers, dignitaries, race car drivers; beautiful floats, giant balloons, marching bands, motorcycle riders, and equestrian teams. The NCI Unit was a multi-cultural tapestry, with participants in a variety of native traditional attire with amazing colorful embellishments. It was fun to see cultures mingling and dancing to the rocking Punjabi Bhangra music before the Parade. The NCI Unit was led by the Chinese Lion Dancers. The addition of the NCI Unit in the Parade was made possible by the 500 Festival that organizes the annual Parade. This is a welcome recognition of the rich and diverse fabric of cultures that are an integral and vital part of the Hoosier State and American spirit.

GRAND MARSHALL, CELEBRITIES, RACE DRIVERS, AND DIGNITARIES
It was great to see Honorable Indiana Governor and Mrs. Eric J. Holcomb, Indianapolis Mayor and Mrs. Joseph Hogsett, Grand Marshall Holocaust Survivor Eva Kor, the 33 Indy 500-Mile Race Drivers and Princesses, other national and international dignitaries attending the 500 Festival Parade and the 500-Mile Race on May 28th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The sunshine, colorful pageantry, and festive Hoosier spirit were on full display at the 61st Annual IPL 500 Festival Parade, to the delight of 300,000 Parade spectators and millions who watched the live NBC - WTHR Channel 13 telecast and later re-telecast of the Parade. The 500 Festival Parade and 500-Mile Race are world-renowned and among the greatest spectacles in the United States.

Delhi Palace and Sukhdev Samra hosted the lunch for all Sikh Hoosier participants and our Toronto guests following the Parade. Reflections about Sikh Hoosier participation in the 2017 and future Parades and other major cultural, civic, and educational programs in Indiana were discussed.

A SPIRIT OF CHARDHIKALA AND INTRODUCTION OF BHANGRA TO SPECTATORS At every intersection where the Parade stopped momentarily, Nachdi Jawani Dancers and Sikh Hoosiers gave a robust performance of Bhangra dance to the cheers of spectators. Along the way, we heard Sikh Jakaras (exuberant exclamations) and laughter; waved in greeting and received warm reception from the people in the stands along the Parade route.

“HASANDIYAN (Laughter), KHILANDIYAN (Festive Feasts and Play), PEHNANDIYAN (Fabulous Clothes)” ON DISPLAY TO THE DELIGHT OF PARADE SPECTATORS
There were many festive costumes, formal and appropriate attire, uniforms and dresses worn by bands, 500 Festival Princesses, Dancers, and the Parade participants. Nothing matched the rich variety of native and traditional attire with colorful embellishments than the ethnic Mexican and Spanish participants and the NCI Unit in which each nationality showcased their beautiful dresses and pride. Among them, the Sikh Hoosier participants, with their vibrant brocaded silk Punjabi suits, colorful turbans, ceremonial attires, and an exuberant spirit, stood tall and were distinctly proud of being a part of one of the greatest Parades and Racing Spectacles in the Nation. Bright sun came out after days of rain to add to the joyous mood. Bhangra dancers, with the rhythmic beat of Punjabi Dhol (drum), lifted the spirit and rocked all the way along the three kilometer route to the delight of enthusiastic spectators and an international audience.
BEYOND PARADES, BHANGRA, AND SHORTSIGHTED VISIONS TO ROBUST CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, COLLABORATIONS, AND BOLD PIONEERING INITIATIVES
All that we have done and achieved in Indiana over the last 50 years has been with the Grace of Sutguru and led by visionary and devoted sevaks of the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis; guidance from Indiana interfaith, civic, political, and business leaders. We welcomed cooperation and opportunities to network with other faiths and cultural groups. We sought and shared ideas, received support from national Sikh organizations, media and philanthropic foundations, and goodwill from unexpected quarters. Based upon where we are, we can see and have advocated diversity in all its forms and textures as our next frontier of incredible blessings.

The next half century carries a lot of promise and great challenges. We have to build upon the past initiatives; expand advocacy about our rights, opportunities, and responsibilities through writings, films, media, cultural activities and civic engagement; step out of our comfort zones and dare to pioneer into areas and ideas that lead to dispelling mistaken identity and wrongful associations, and promote greater respect for our everyone's rightful place, contributions, and concerns. We need to seek, and discover imaginative crossroads and our efforts directed at being an integral part of the fabric and spirit of America. Spreading the good word about our successful initiatives and triumphs through all channels available to us is vital and an important contribution along this vision and achieving a rightful place for Sikh heritage, culture, and community as other nationalities have achieved over the past several generations.  

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