Flag Of India Raised Above State Capitol As Indian Americans
August 15, 2005
By GARRET CONDON, Courant Staff Writer
The music was distinctly Indian, as were the dances by brilliantly
clad performers. Some joked that the hazy morning heat was reminiscent
of the old country.
More than 200 Indian Americans assembled on the south lawn of
the state Capitol on Sunday morning to mark India's Independence
Day, which is today. It was the sixth such annual ceremony conducted
in Hartford by the India Association of Greater Hartford in association
with a number of other local Indian-American organizations.
The two-hour ceremony featured the raising of the flag of India
above the Capitol and included dance and music from a number of
Indian traditions. A series of speakers, including local politicians
and prominent Indian Americans, emphasized the links between India
and the United States.
Sgt. Alpa Ladani grew emotional as she spoke of serving America
in Iraq last year as a medic with the 118th Medical Battalion of
Newington and the importance of her Indian heritage.
Ladani, of Windsor, said that
she came to the United States from India when she was 7. "America is my home," she said. "I
have served this country. I went to Iraq and fought for Operation
Iraqi Freedom. But I do not forget where I have come from. India
is my motherland. It's where I'm from. It makes me who I am today."
She said that being an Indian-born
American is not a source of conflict for her. "I embrace
Lt. Gov. Kevin B. Sullivan was on hand with his wife, Carolyn
Thornberry, a member of the West Hartford Town Council, and Hartford
City Councilwoman rJo Winch, representing Mayor Eddie A. Perez.
Sullivan quoted from Mahatma Gandhi, who led the Indian independence
movement, and from Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister,
in praising the achievements of India and of Indian Americans.
India became independent on Aug. 15, 1947, after a bitter struggle
against British rule.
Dr. Suresh Shah of West Hartford,
president of the Connecticut Association of Physicians of Indian
Origin, said that he remembered the very first day of independence. "The city of Bombay, which
is called Mumbai now, was all illuminated with lights, and we all
jumped on the trucks and went around the city in celebration," he
Harish Pandya of Newington,
president of the sponsoring India Association of Greater Hartford,
said that India and the United States, as two great and powerful
democracies, must "put together
a front to fight terrorism or anyone who is invading our democracies."
He said that younger generations
of Indian Americans well understand the importance of Indian
Independence Day because they understand the essence of democracy
in both India and America as "freedom
of the individual and openness of society."
Madhavi Menon, 18, of Woodbridge,
said that she was born in the United States. "But I still have a lot of my Indian heritage
because my parents are from India, so I grew up with a lot of Indian
culture in my family and my household," she said.
Her 14-year-old brother, Dileep, predicted that future generations
of Indian Americans will continue to honor their traditions.
"Even my kids will still be celebrating our heritage," he
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at