It’s Indian Independence day today. All day, I’ve been thinking about the difference between how August 15th is celebrated in India and how July 4th is celebrated here.
My usual Independence Day routine while in India consisted of my mom waking us up extra early, even though it was a holiday, so that we could show up on time to a flag hoisting ceremony either at our local elementary school or the grounds of our residential complex. A significant crowd always gathered for these ceremonies.
Somehow every person ended up with a miniature Indian flag – although I don’t remember my parents ever buying one. The little kids would run around waving the flag until someone with a very stern voice called everyone’s attention. The flag would be hoisted as the national anthem was sung; everyone stood pin straight at military attention (the proper way to show respect for your country).
When I was younger someone who had participated in the Freedom Struggle against the British, would then give a speech about the glory of India and it’s hard won freedom from the British Empire.
Our resident Freedom Fighter, Mr. S, was widely known as not actually having ever been involved in the freedom struggle at all. As the story goes, he was out to get milk when the British were doing rounds and arrested him with a pail of milk. After serving time in a British jail he was hailed by friends and family as a de facto freedom fighter…after all he had been to jail!