Martin C. Barry
Park Extension’s Querbes Ave. resonated with joy and jubilation on the afternoon of Aug. 18 as people of Indian heritage from everywhere in the Montreal region gathered to take part in a festive parade to mark the day more than seven decades ago when India became a nation.
For elected officials, the India Independence Day celebrations, which also include cultural activities in Howard Park, were just one of a lengthy series of events taking place all that weekend when Montrealers were beginning to wind down after summer vacation.
Everyone loves a parade
Borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli was feeling enthusiastic while waiting patiently with the growing crowd for the parade to get underway.
“I think it’s just wonderful that we can all be together like this and show the pride that we feel for our countries of origin, but also the community that we live in which is also very important,” she said.
No rain on this parade
It was the perfect day for a parade, according to Naseer Mehdi Khan of the India Canada Organization, one of the chief organizers. “There was a forty per cent chance of rain, so we are grateful for the sun,” he said.
This year’s parade queen was Shemonti Karnaker, a Park Extension residents whose parents migrated to Canada from India. The official parade marshall this year was Pierrefonds-Dollard Liberal MP Frank Baylis.
Republic of India’s history
At midnight on 15 August 1947, India’s independence was proclaimed, followed less than three years later by a declaration of the Republic of India by the new country’s Constituent Assembly.
Organized annually by the India-Canada Organization, the India Day Parade along Querbes Avenue is one of the largest public events that takes place in Park Extension annually. Months of preparation are necessary before each year’s parade.
Each year, the parade reaches its destination at Howard Park, where a stage is set up for speeches and cultural entertainment that continue late into the evening.
India’s growing economy
In addition to the celebrations, India Day is also an occasion for the organizers to publicly speak about progress that’s been made in the previous year in the home country and to focus on issues of concern there.
Since 1990, when economic and political restrictions were eased in India, the country has emerged as one of the fastest-growing economies in the developing world. This has been accompanied by increases in life expectancy, literacy rates and food security.