New York | As the iconic Times Square brimmed with hues of the Indian tricolour and fervour in commemoration of India’s 77th independence day, a 1,800 kg ‘Chakra’ sculpture, a replica of the famed Konark wheel, was unveiled here to mark the special occasion.
Members of the Indian-American and diaspora community turned out in large numbers at the popular New York City landmark to celebrate India’s Independence Day on Tuesday.
Consul General of India in New York Randhir Jaiswal unfurled the Indian tricolour at Times Square amid chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, ‘Vande Matram’ and ‘Jai Hind’ and patriotic songs as those gathered on the occasion waved the Indian and American flags.
The flag hoisting ceremony was organised by leading Indian diaspora organisation Federation of Indian Associations - NY NJ CT NE (FIA) and attended by Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Michelin star chef, filmmaker, restaurateur and entrepreneur Vikas Khanna, FIA Chairman Ankur Vaidya, FIA President Kenny Desai and other FIA officials as well as Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) Board Members Anil Bansal and Rajeev Kaul as well as Vice Chairman Rakesh Kaul.
On the occasion, Khanna unveiled an especially-made Chakra Sculpture. The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), in collaboration with The Consulate General of India in New York and The City of New York, held the Inauguration Ceremony of The Indian Independence Exhibition, showcasing "the awe-inspiring Chakra Sculpture, a symbol of India’s rich cultural heritage and shared values between the two nations." "We are honoured to bring the Konark Chakra to the heart of New York City to celebrate India’s 77th Independence Day. The Chakra or wheel stands as a shining symbol of India’s heritage, thought and timeless wisdom. Through the display of Chakra at Times Square, we not only celebrate the rich culture of India but also the enduring friendship that binds our two nations - United States and India,” Jaiswal said.
“This sculpture, a faithful replica of one of the twenty-four Chakras that adorn the Konark Temple dedicated to Surya or the Sun God, carries with it the essence of India's history, resilience, and unity. It also symbolizes our deep reverence for nature, for the sun,” he said.
Khanna, who had been working on bringing the Chakra sculpture to New York City for nearly five years, told PTI that it is a “dream come true” and emotional moment for him to have the sculpture unveiled at Times Square, especially on the occasion of India’s independence day.
“It is amazing to bring this kind of art, such a strong heritage” to New York City and to showcase to the world the “power of Indian arts.” The Chakra project was started before the COVID-19 pandemic and artisans have worked with perseverance to complete the project.
“This was made by gods,” Khanna said, standing in front of the massive Chakra as he highlighted the intricate work on the sculpture.
The sculpture will be moved to Khanna’s upcoming restaurant in New York City.
“For the diaspora, for the younger generations, they will get a reference of seeing something from India - so pure and majestic at the same time,” Khanna said.
“I'm so proud to be representing India on August 15 to showcase the artisans and history and culture in this piece of stone which represents the wheel of time. I think this day is gifted to us by ancestors, their sacrifices, their resilience, and the determination that the children will grow up in a free country where they can choose to be anything they want,” Khanna said, adding that “Today, on August 15, we salute all those who stood up for this power and also gave us the vision of future of India.” Rajeev Kaul said the Chakra Sculpture’s presence in the heart of Times Square is a “testament to the enduring friendship and shared values that unite our two nations.” The Chakra Sculpture, with dimensions of 8 feet x 6 feet and an approximate weight of 1800 kilograms (4,000 pounds), stands as a testament to the remarkable craftsmanship and artistic ingenuity.
It is a faithful replica of the Konark Chakra, a revered emblem from the Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha.
The original Konark Chakra is a meticulously carved stone wheel, one of 24 such wheels adorning the Konark Sun Temple.
Built in the 13th century, the Konark Sun Temple endured challenges throughout history such as invasions and natural calamities, yet its resilient spirit persevered, the IAAC said.
“The intricate carvings and symbolic representation of the Konark Chakra continue to captivate visitors, serving as a poignant reminder of India's architectural and cultural legacy.
Despite facing adversity, the Chakra embodies the enduring power and movement of the Sun, a source of sustenance and life, underscoring the same values as embodied by the city of New York,” the IAAC added.
The sculpture will be on display at Times Square for a week, enabling visitors and tourists “to engage with the captivating history and symbolism that the Chakra represents.” The Indian independence day was celebrated with fervour as the Consulate General of India in New York and the Permanent Mission of India to the UN hosted flag-hoisting ceremonies and special receptions to mark the occasion.
The Empire State Building was also lit in the hues of the Indian tricolour to celebrate the 77th independence day of India. PTI YAS RUP.