“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed, it must be won.”
As India celebrates its 75th Independence Day, these words truly resonate with the spirit of India’s freedom struggle, in which many patriotic people laid down their lives to free their motherland. Independence Day is celebrated annually as a national holiday commemorating the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom, the day when the provisions of the 1947 Independence Act, which transferred legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly, came into effect. India’s Independence Day is significant as it commemorates the sacrifices, the valour, and spirit of countless Indian soldiers and Freedom Fighters, because of whom India stands as a free and proud nation today. Independence Day is a day of national pride and honour that is observed throughout India and is celebrated with immense exuberance and ardor.
On the night of 15th August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, said, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” These words aptly captured the struggle and happiness of newly-independent India. To mark the historic moment, Nehru hoisted the Indian national flag above the Lahori gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. Thereafter, on each subsequent Independence Day, the incumbent Prime Minister customarily raises the Tricolour and gives an address to the Nation. (2).
The unfurling of National Flag by Jawaharlal Nehru at Red Fort, Delhi, on 16 August 1947 (3)
Now, every August 15th, in honour of the occasion, twenty-one gun shots are fired from the fort, and the PM delivers their annual speech, highlighting all the accomplishments of the past year, and any important issues and goals in the future development of India (4). The speech ends with the singing of the Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”, before the Indian Armed Forces and Paramilitary forces march in a parade, where scenes of the independence struggle as well as some of India's cultural traditions are showcased. In recent times, kite flying has also become a tradition for the day.
Children ride elephants during India's Independence parade in New Delhi (5)
To commemorate the day, all government offices in New Delhi remain lit throughout the holiday, even though they are closed (6). Throughout the country, similar flag hoisting ceremonies take place, with citizens often adorning their clothes, cars, and houses with paper and balloon decorations in the flag’s 3 colours.
Outside of India, parades and pageants are also held, particularly in areas with a large Indian population. August 15th, or the adjoining weekend day, has now come to be celebrated as “India Day”, even in major cities of the world such as New York (7).
The theme for the 75th Independence Day celebration is ‘Nation First, Always First’ and Prime
Minister Nahrendra Modi is expected to address the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort (8). This year’s celebrations are still set to go ahead, but with several restrictions and preventative measures in place due to the pandemic; there is no doubt that the past few months have been exceptionally challenging. Additionally, to recognise the selflessness of COVID-19 warriors such as doctors, healthcare workers, sanitation workers etc, they will be invited to the ceremony. An exemplar event of the aforementioned celebratory ceremony is the military parade, which is to be livestreamed to avoid large crowds (9). As usual, it is also anticipated that the President, Ram Nath Kovind, will deliver a speech. In the name of celebrating virtually, students have the opportunity to upload videos of them singing the National Anthem to a government-launched platform (10). All entries submitted will be compiled into a single video to be played live on Independence Day, in remembrance of those who made this day possible (11).
We hope you enjoyed reading our exploration of India’s Independence Day celebrations. From all of BIMA, we wish you a very Happy Independence Day!
By Jayantika, Sameer and Aishwarya
2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech: When and where to watch [Internet]. The Indian Express. 2021 [cited 2021 Aug 14]. Available from: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/prime-minister-narendra-modi-independence-day-speech-where-and-when-to-watch-7453245/
3. Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan. Independence Day Celebrations 1947 - Nehru Memorial Museum and Library [Internet]. Google Arts & Culture. [cited 2021 Aug 14]. Available from: https://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/independence-day-celebrations-1947/gQ7T_zFF
7. Indian-Americans celebrate Independence Day. The Hindu [Internet]. 2010 Aug 16 [cited 2021 Aug 14]; Available from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Indian-Americans-celebrate-Independence-Day/article16134068.ece
8. Quint T. Independence Day 2021: Theme, History and Significance [Internet]. TheQuint. 2021 [cited 2021 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.thequint.com/lifestyle/independence-day-2021-theme-history-and-significance
9. Pandey DK. Government issues instructions for Independence Day celebrations. The Hindu [Internet]. 2021 Aug 3 [cited 2021 Aug 14]; Available from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-issues-instructions-for-independence-day-celebrations/article35708318.ece
10. Independence Day of India, 15 August 2021: History, Significance, Facts and Celebration - Times of India [Internet]. The Times of India. [cited 2021 Aug 14]. Available from: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/events/independence-day-of-india-15-august-2021-history-significance-facts-and-celebration/articleshow/85296106.cms
11. Ideas For Virtual Events To Celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day [Internet]. NDTV.com. [cited 2021 Aug 14]. Available from: https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/independence-day-2021-here-are-ideas-for-virtual-events-to-celebrate-this-independence-day-virtually-with-family-and-friends-2508170