Heights of patriotism and oneness we feel at Wagah Border

Malavika Krishna.K, IIK Young Reporter
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

“Malu…come here and just read through this news”, said my father who is always keen to update me with the current happenings around the world. These small titbits now and then have always helped me in various quiz competitions and discussions at school. The news in question went like this- ‘Pakistan and India to Replace Gates at Wagah Border before 14th August.

This news reminded me of one story that my grandfather once told me. He used to tell how India got split, back in 1947, and about the only road service connecting the two nations - The Great Trunk Road, a road that even fascinated Rudyard Kipling. Even though this ancient road stretching from Bangladesh to Afghanistan has lost its significance, a part of it is still alive at the Indo-Pak border symbolising the brotherhood, cooperation and the vibrant history between two rival nations- The Wagah Border in Punjab. While going through the news I was eager to know more about this Wagah border and I turned to my Google - My Dad. What he told intrigued me.

The gates at the Wagah border were mounted back in the 1947 when the country was split. And every evening there is a powerful military practice held at this border which got commenced in 1959. During this ceremony, thunderous military parades and commands from both sides are followed by the opening of the gates and simultaneous lowering of the prestigious flags from both the countries with patriotic songs in the background. The Indian soldiers from the Border Security Force (BSF) are in green and khaki while the Pakistan’s Rangers are in black. The ceremony culminates with the closing of the gates before which the flags are folded and soldiers from both sides would handshake.

“Soldiers are specially chosen and trained for this ceremony. They also have a rule for maintaining beards and moustaches foe which they are additionally paid.” my father continues. At first it seemed a little funny to me but later I realised that these small details are the ones that make this ceremony unique and stand out from others around the world.

Even after almost 6 decades, the Wagah Border is not deficient in its spectators from both India and Pakistan; a patriotic feast for the eyes and mind. Hundreds of citizens and foreigners come every evening to join this patriotic ceremony. The Beating Retreat border ceremony during the Republic Day is an even more grand function that is accepted internationally.

“This great ceremony has withstood half a century of diplomatic arguments, border clashes, monetary warfare and mutual misunderstandings. A subtle moment of oneness and unification is the highlight of Wagah Border ceremony that we feel while attending it”, he added. How I wish now to attend this ceremony someday.

There have been a lot of political tensions between the two countries that the ceremony at Wagah border has almost turned into a ferocious arena. After the India-Pakistan military confrontation on 29th September 2016 and the attack at the Kashmir border, the ceremony was not troubled but at the same time there were increased tensions between the countries; both at the border and insides. Regardless of a long tradition of exchanging sweets and greetings at all major festivals and celebrations, the BSF did not distribute sweets neither for the Diwali nor the Republic Day the following year. Even spectators from either side had their own way of showing patriotism-face painting their face in the colours of the flag and screaming praises of one’s own country.

When I heard, it kept me wondering as to how one nation, when split into two because of communal conflicts, are still fighting. What we must remember is in such fights or wars, it’s those innocent soldiers that are sacrificing their lives for their nations pride and stability. And, it is in this light, the importance of the news that I mentioned above comes. Imran Khan, the very new Prime Minister of Pakistan has promised better relations with India and his first step that both India and Pakistan is ready to witness shortly is the replacement of the old gates at the Wagah border. Both India and Pakistan have enthusiastically begun the instalment of similar gates, which is to be over before 14th August 2018.

I am sure that this historically important event will be a turning point in the relations between the two countries. This Independence Day is sure to see a celebration like never before. Another Independence Day is here again reminding me the sacrifices by the great leaders so that we can live freely. And as always, being far away from home cannot stop me from loving my country. I am and always will be a proud and honoured citizen of this country.

Happy Independence Day to all citizens of our mighty nation.

Jai Hind!!

Malavika Krishna
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