This India Day, Indian Americans want to be independent from politics

by | Aug 15, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Edison, New Jersey, home to the highest concentration of Indian Americans in the nation and often referred to as Little India by outsiders and natives alike, has been the hub for India Day celebrations for years. This year was no exception. Crowds gathered Sunday (Aug. 13) in an advance celebration of the Aug. 15 anniversary of India’s independence from Britain in 1947. Loud music, vibrant flags, traditional costumes and even the Hindu deities Ram and Hanuman colored the streets of Edison. Businesses and temples passed out lassis and prasad.
In the United States, where 4.4 million people of Indian heritage reside, Indian Independence Day is a recognition of freedom — a multifaith, multicultural celebration of Indian civilization before and after the British Raj. But for many Indian Americans today, celebrating India Day comes with the complicated decision of whether to celebrate, ignore or protest their ancestral homeland’s current political atmosphere and the rise of Hindu nationalism there.
A bulldozer at last year’s parade in Edison stirred controversy and brought a spotlight to the political tensions simmering under the surface of India’s diaspora. The bulldozer, adorned with photos of Indian politician Yogi Adityanath, offended many Indian American Muslims who felt the bulldozer’s presence was a form of i …

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