1.If you are an American citizen, share what the Fourth of July means to you and how you celebrate it. Do you think of it as the true start to summer?
2.If you are from another country, other than the United States, share what national holidays are significant to your country. Are any of them similar to our celebration of Independence Day? Are there traditions around their celebration? Do they suggest the beginning of a season or something other than the National purpose?
3.Go a step further…let’s talk books.
Considering the Independence Day for India is on 15th August, I thought about doing an old Weekly Geeks post which seems appropriate for the occasion. The national holidays in India are Independence Day(15th Aug), Republic Day(26th Jan) and Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti(2nd Oct).
For those who don’t know:
India got it’s independence from the British rule on 14th August 1947 at the stroke of midnight. This is the famous part of the speech given by our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance….. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.
Independence Day in India is celebrated across Schools, Colleges and companies too. When I was in school, we used to wake up earlier than usual and go to school. My mom used to buy us small paper flags on the way. It used to be very festive. We used to have a small flag hoisting ceremony and then a few programs, mainly singing Independence Day songs, band marches and drill routines. It was fun and lasted for around 2 hours. Then we would go home early and enjoy the day off.
When I was in college we used to visit orphanages and distribute things. Once I graduated and started working, Independence Day is just another holiday. In my previous locality, we used to have loud speakers blaring from every nook and corner but where I live now, it’s mostly quite. It gives us an opportunity to spend time with the family.
Okay, lets get to the third point already…lets talk about books. I have one very well known book in my TBR pile called Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. It’s languishing there since a long time. I really want to read it but it’s huge so I keep putting it off. Maybe someday.
About the book: Fifty years ago, seconds after midnight on 14-15 August 1947, the Union Jack, emblazoned with the Star of India, began its final journey down the flagstaff of Viceroy’s House, New Delhi. One fifth of humanity claimed their independence from the greatest empire history has ever seen. But 400 million people were to find that the price of freedom was partition and war, riot and murder.
In this new edition of their superb reconstruction of events at the time, Collins and Lapierre recount the eclipse of the fabled British Raj and examine the roles enacted by, among others, Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Mountbatten, Nehru and Jinnah in its violent transformation into the new India and Pakistan.
I do remember one more book called Train to Pakistan by Khuswant Singh. Such a brilliant book. It’s fiction and it takes place in a small village at the now India-Pakistan border. When India was partitioned there was huge Hindu-Muslim movement across borders. This book depicts the mayhem, the atrocities commited by each side on one another. The latest edition also has pictures. It’s a really sad book. The only thing that can be called as a bad side to India’s Independence. Do read it if you ever get the chance.
That’s about it I guess.
Note: The pictures above are from the Republic Day parade(26th Jan), one of the national holidays in India as mentioned above.