By Surekha Vijh
WASHINGTON: A highly-spirited gathering of more than 200 members of the diaspora, Indian embassy personnel and their families celebrated India’s 68th Republic Day on the Indian Embassy premises here in Washington DC.
New Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna paid floral tribute to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of the Embassy. Thereafter, the envoy unfurled the Indian National Flag. The National Anthem was sung, while the community too sang along.
It was a patriotic sight with uniformed officers of the Indian armed forces – army, navy and air force – in attendance, along with community activists and children dressed in traditional attire waving Indian flags. Official representatives of three Indian forces, saluted the flag
The weather was mild for a change, traditionally cold on a January morning. The guests were invited inside the embassy for a feast of cultural program and a reception. Ambassador Sarna welcomed the gathering and read excerpts from the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to the Nation on the eve of Republic Day.
“It’s a very proud day for India. This is a time to celebrate our achievements and to also introspect about the challenges that lie ahead,” Sarna said. “In this journey, the Indian-American community is playing a very important role,” he added.
The government of India has made it a point to reach out to members of the diaspora, “to engage them and I think together, we have a lot to achieve and I’m sure we will,” Sarna added.
The program also featured a song by Krishnapriya, a student of Chinmaya Mission, Frederick, Maryland. Two acclaimed documentaries, A Day in the Life of India’ and Indian Army: An Instrument of National Power, were also shown.
Every function at the Indian embassy turns out a nice big family gathering. The guests were then treated to south Indian snacks and tea.