Non-Hindus Question Independence Celebration

August 16, 2003

Source: Mercury News

On August 16, 2003 the Mercury News reported that "The mission of the 11th annual Festival of India and Parade, being hosted this weekend in Fremont, is meant to celebrate India's independence from British rule in 1947... The event, which features folk dancing, samosas and appearances from famous Bollywood actors, is the largest cultural event for the Bay Area's burgeoning Indo-American population of about 155,000... Some minority religious groups from the South Asian country living here wonder: Whose India is being celebrated? Of India's 1 billion residents, about 80 percent are Hindu, 12 percent are Muslim, 2 percent are Christian and 2 percent are Sikh. Buddhists, Jains and Parsis comprise the rest... For their part, the Hindus who organize and attend the festival said they are shocked to hear minority groups feel so wounded. About 5 percent of the 100 or so volunteers who put on the festival are Sikh, and "one or two" volunteers are Muslim, according to spokesman Yogi Chugh. In the past, there have been parade floats from Punjab -- homeland to many Sikhs -- and traditional Punjabi bhangra dancing. But he acknowledged that his organization has not gone out to the gurdwaras, or Sikh temples, and mosques to recruit people of different faiths."