“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.”
These were the initial few words uttered by the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru in his immensely famed speech to the parliament, “Tryst with Destiny”.
India attained independence from the British Empire on 15 August, 1947. On this very date, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the national flag above the Lahore gate of the Red Fort in Delhi, hence initiating a tradition that each prime minister has been following for every subsequent year. The day is celebrated with absolute enthusiasm by every Indian in accordance with it being observed as a national holiday. The enthusiasm is reflected in people’s attire, decorations, activities and actions; all inherent with replicas of the tri-colour. Kite-flying has become an increasingly popular event; and is practiced on a large scale especially in the capital. The day is completely dedicated to the various freedom fighters and contributors who gave in their cent percent for the freedom of the golden bird. Some great leaders were Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Tanguturi Prakasam, C. Rajagopalachari and many others. Many youngmen like Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Alluri Seetharama Raju and Katta Bomman sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom. On the eve of Independence Day, the president delivers the “Address to the nation” followed by the hoisting of the flag at red Fort by the Prime Minister on 15th. The Prime Minister explains the policies of the government, what has been done through the year and what is proposed for the year ahead. Before which, he expresses his gratitude and respect to the martyrs and wishes everyone a joyous celebration of the Independence Day. Twenty one gun shots are fired out in the honour of this event and the Prime Minister takes the ceremonial salute and guard of honour from the three wings of the defence forces. After the national song, “Jana Gana Mana” is sung, the event moves into parades and showcases by different cultures and forces. The flag hoisting ceremony is common and prevalent across various governmental, non-governmental, educational institutions. Patriotic songs, movies, documentaries are played across all communication channels. Other events include retailers offering special discounts, markets introducing special Independence Day offers; in short, finding and providing a reason to celebrate. Even the Indian Postal Service publishes commemorative stamps depicting independence movement leaders, nationalistic themes and defence-related themes hence contributing their bit.
Similar events occur in different state capitals, where the flag is hoisted by the Chief Minister followed by an address to the public meeting. It is also celebrated with complete vigour across different embassies. The nation stands united and integrated on this particular day.