North America’s only Indian American bagpipe band hails from NJ

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SECAUCUS -

North America’s only Indian American bagpipe band calls New Jersey home.

The Swamibapa Pipe Band operates out of the Shree Swaminarayan temple in Secaucus, the spiritual home to thousands of Indian Americans who practice a modern form of Hinduism.

The band recently performed to celebrate the Hindu holiday of Diwali, as well as to honor Veterans Day.

“What better way to cross cultures because that's pretty much what the band is about,” says band member Hersh Patel. “It's a way to give youth a way to hold on to their cultural heritage as well as branching out and learning about other cultures.”

Band members say that for much of the 20th century the leader of the temples branch of Hinduism was a musician and lover of music. They say that he had a fondness for the pipe bands he saw play in London. In the early 1970s, he called on his devotees to form a pipe band in London. There are now two Swamibapa pipe bands in the UK, as well as groups in Kenya and India.

“He was astounded by the bagpipes. He saw the discipline, the leadership, he saw the culture,” says Patel. “That's what had him open up to the music.

The band in Secaucus formed in 2003. The 40-member group has performed at the 9/11 Memorial and at parades in New York City and New Jersey. They often dress in full Scottish regalia.

“We play Scottish music, American music and Indian music, including the Bollywood music as well,” says Tarkesh Patel.

The band recently played “America The Beautiful” in honor of Veteran’s day.

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