5 ways to enjoy Naperville's India Day

A singer who's been called the Beyoncé of India is coming to Naperville.

Sunidhi Chauhan and her group won't only perform her hits from Bollywood movies — they'll do it for free during the second annual India Day Parade and Celebration at Knoch Park.

Chauhan is scheduled to sing about 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, after a parade featuring more than 80 units — about half of them colorful floats designed by groups from various regions in India — and amid a festival setup featuring Indian food, clothing and jewelry vendors.

Organizers with Naperville Indian Community Outreach are expecting large crowds from the Naperville area and as far away as Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin to join in a unifying celebration of culture. Here they offer five tips to take it all in.

Arrive early

Nothing brings a crowd like the promise of something free, so to get a good spot for the parade and concert, organizers suggest arriving early.

The milelong parade begins at 5 p.m. and viewers will have time to watch it from anywhere on the route and still make it for the beginning of Chauhan's concert, said Krishna Bansal, Indian Community Outreach chairman.

He suggests parade watchers choose a spot along Porter Avenue, Main Street or Hillside Road, closer to the beginning of the route, as latecomers may crowd the latter segments along West Street until the end at Martin Avenue.

The celebration grounds at Knoch Park, 724 S. West St., open at 4 p.m., so anyone wanting a front-row concert seat can stake it out with blankets and lawn chairs.

Cultivate an eye for details

Regional groups from north, south, east and west India will populate a parade also marked with about 40 colorful floats, dance groups that will perform along the route and the usual smattering of businesses and politicians.

“The parade this year is going to be bigger and more colorful,” Bansal said.

The three colors of the Indian flag — orange white and green — will be prominent, but so will other designs unique to each region, so keep an eye out for the distinctions.

“Every area has a little different dance form and a different way to dress,” he said.

Be adventurous

When it comes to food and dress, leave the oatmeal and khakis aside and try some traditional Indian cuisine, clothing or jewelry, says Saily Joshi, a Naperville Indian Community Outreach board member.

“We have an amazing food court,” Joshi said. “We have so many wonderful restaurants.”

Think Deccan Spice, Indian Harvest and Cuisine of India, just to name a few. Food choices also will differ by region, but Joshi suggests these staples:

• Samosa: For a snack, give this dish a try, she says. It's got potatoes, peas and onions and it's fried like a dumpling.

• Biryani with chicken or vegetables: Check out this rice dish cooked in a heavy clay pot for hours, Joshi suggests.

• Mango lassi: Sip something new with this smoothie-like drink featuring yogurt, water, spices and fruit.

Leave coolers and backpacks behind

For security reasons, coolers and backpacks aren't allowed, but blankets and lawn chairs are OK.

Hear Hindi and a Bollywood beat

For a preview of Chauhan's hottest songs, check out Joshi's suggestions of these songs on YouTube:

• “Kamli” from the movie “Dhoom 3.” Fun fact: the movie actually was filmed in Chicago.

• “The Disco Song

• “Beedi” from the movie “Omkara”

Most of Chauhan's songs are fast-paced and in Hindi, since that's the most common language for Bollywood movies, but keep those ears open for some chorus lines in English, too.

“Shes very entertaining, very upbeat — a great performer,” Joshi said. “It's going to be an authentic Bollywood show.”

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  Styles of dance and clothing from various regions in India will be on display Sunday during the second annual Naperville India Day Parade and Celebration. Mark Black/, AUGUST 2015
  The colors of the Indian flag will be prominent among floats and dance groups Sunday in the second annual Naperville India Day Parade, which steps off at 5 p.m. on Porter Avenue at Naperville Central High School. Mark Black/, AUGUST 2015

If you go

What: Second annual India Day parade and concert

Who: Parade with 80 units, including 40 floats; concert by Indian singer Sunidhi Chauhan; hosted by Naperville Indian Community Outreach

When: Sunday, Aug. 14; celebration grounds open at 4 p.m., parade at 5 p.m., concert at 7 p.m.

Where: Concert at Knoch Park, 724 S. West St.; parade starts on Porter Avenue at Naperville Central High School, heads south on Main Street, west on Hillside Road and south on West Street to end at Martin Avenue

Cost: Free


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