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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Independence Day Celebrations

This year, India celebrates the 62nd Anniversary of our freedom from colonial rule. Independence Day is a day when we pay homage to our great national leaders and heroic freedom fighters - who made many sacrifices, including giving up their lives to liberate India from foreign control.

We remember that our freedom struggle was fought and won, not by force or bloodshed but through the noble principles of truth and non-violence. It was a unique movement in the history of freedom struggles that won us the admiration of the whole world.
Road To Independence

The struggle for India's Independence began in 1857 with the Sepoy Mutiny - External website that opens in a new window in the town of Meerut. Later, in the 20th century, a countrywide movement for Independence was launched by the Indian National Congress and other political organizations, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji strongly advocated non violent civil disobedience in opposition to violent struggles as observed in most resistance movements of the time. Some of the methods of resistance advocated by him were protest marches, prayer meetings, boycott of foreign products and promotion of Indian goods.

The simplicity of these methods of dissent found favour with the Indian public and local campaigns soon became national movements. Some of the main events in the Indian Freedom Struggle were the Non Cooperation Movement, Dandi March, Civil Disobedience Movement and the Quit India Movement. It soon became clear that India could no longer be controlled by colonial powers and the British gave in to the demands of Indian leaders. It was decided to transfer power to India on the 15th of August, 1947.

At 11.00 pm on the 14th of August, 1947, the Constituent Assembly, to whom power was to be transferred, began a meeting to celebrate India's Independence. As the clock struck midnight, India gained her liberty and became a free country. It was then that the first Prime Minister of Free India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave his famous 'Tryst With Destiny - External website that opens in a new window' speech -

"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.....are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?"

This was followed by the unfurling of the tricolour and the singing of the National Anthem from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Here is some more information about the Freedom Struggle - External website that opens in a new window.
Celebrations All Around

The period leading up to Independence Day is a time of celebration. It is a time when major government buildings are illuminated with strings of lights and the tricolor flutters proudly from homes and other buildings. Independence Day - the15th of August is marked as a National Holiday, to enable each citizen to commemorate the sacrifices made by our brave freedom fighters decades ago and celebrate our freedom.

In the week around Independence Day, the media enthusiastically promotes a spirit of patriotism with special contests and programmes being telecast by radio stations and television channels. Movies about the heroic deeds of martyrs are screened on television while publications bring out stories and reports with a nationalistic theme.

The President delivers the 'Address to the Nation' on the eve of Independence Day. This is followed by the unfurling of the tricolour from the Red Fort in Delhi on the next day. At the State level, we witness special Independence Day functions that include flag hoisting ceremonies, march pasts and cultural programmes. These events are held in State Capitals and are usually presided over by the Chief Minister of that particular State. Celebrations on a smaller scale are held by educational institutions, residential associations, cultural centres and political constituencies.

Another symbol of Independence Day is the sport of kite flying. The azure skies are dotted with countless kites being flown from rooftops and fields to symbolize the free spirit of India. Kites of various styles, sizes and shades, including the tricolour are available in the marketplaces. Kite flying enthusiasts simply revel in this opportunity to display their kite fighting skills.

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