Nostalgia for Republic Day celebrations of yore

On the lawns in our residential complex, an excited crowd gathers for the Republic Day celebrations. Several commercial establishments promote themselves. Free pizzas and burgers, discounts on coaching classes and real estate ads. One corner has a line-up by the talented child artists of the colony.

Centrestage is the bunched up flag, waiting to be unfurled. And when it is unfurled by a senior citizen known to us all by sight, the crowd cheers and claps. Then takes selfies. Several moments later, someone remembers that the national anthem is yet to be sung. Voices pipe up. Many of us join with gusto. Kids shuffle. People slouch. Others stand cross legged. One mother walks right across the lawn in the midst of the anthem to fuss over her child.

I have to say I was shocked. And then I stood there mentally reprimanding myself at how out of tune I am, how old world, how judgmental. Yes, the world has changed. Standing at attention to the national anthem is no longer a measure of your patriotism. Heck, you don’t even have to know the anthem by heart any more! Following up the anthem with Honey Singh numbers is absolutely fine. Who wants to listen to those boring ‘desh bhakti’ songs three times a year? ‘Saare jahaan se achha?’ Again? Why?

I’m filled with nostalgia for the simple celebrations of yore. Nothing commercial. Standing together and singing simple tunes that everyone could join into. Kids showcasing a multitude of talents. People of different classes joining in. Simple sweets, usually laddoos and small samosas, being distributed to everyone. People dressed smartly, even traditionally. A genuine sense of community.

Of course, those who turned out to celebrate together today are also upright and patriotic citizens who love their country and work hard for its development. What then does this mean, this giving up of the rituals of patriotism that served us well for decades? What does it say about us, our creativity, our attention to detail and our sense of occasion when Diwali and Lohri and Republic Day are all celebrated in the same way?

I don’t have answers to these questions. But I do have the questions.

And they burn inside me…… As I raise my children into young adults, as I make important decisions about my future and theirs, as I experience the tremendous social changes that mark the India of today. And I wonder, what’s the connection between what we do and what we are.

 

 

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About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on January 26, 2016, in Personal, Politics & Citizenship and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Glad to see a post from you after a while….

  2. Anyone who has seen a legless soldier with a only one prosthetic raise himself ramrod straight (with a cane in the wrong hand) to salute the Tiranga while Jana Gana Man is played will not call you judgemental.

    What does it say about us, our creativity, our attention to detail and our sense of occasion when Diwali and Lohri and Republic Day are all celebrated in the same way?

    The above line says it all but I think this is a more Delhi/NCR type of thing. Having stayed in Chennai I can say that there was tremendous attention to detail and no one would mistake Pongal for Chitthirai.

    Tu jaanti hai mai kaun hai? Sudhar ja warna theek kar doonge. Oye Bunty!! phone laga commissioner ko/DCP ko/minister ko/Home Sketry (secretary) ko/CM ko/PM ko. President meri bua ki saas ke mama ke jeeja ke neighbour ke class fellow ka pota hai. CRPF bulwa doonga. Is shehar mai rehna hai ki nahin. There is tremendous attention to detail when you want to establish a relation with Gandhi/Vadra/Modi/Kejriwal/Pranab Da/Arun Jaitley etc. The lack of detail or refinement is just an extension of this malady.

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