Those Magnificent Colors of the ‘Tiranga’!


Nostalgic Memories of Independence Day Celebrations in India!

Students carry a giant Indian national flag during a “Tiranga Yatra” rally as part of the ongoing
celebrations commemorating 75 years of India’s Independence, in Ahmedabad, India. Photo: Reuters Amit Dave

Independence Day, for most Indians anywhere in the world, is a day of national pride and joy, and memories, and thankfulness, and assurance that as long as the flag is flying high, freedom is safe.

Most first generation Indian immigrants in the U.S. still feel totally connected to India. Feeling proud of India’s achievements, they go about the various celebratory functions, parades and cultural programs on India’s Independence Day. Many grew up in India and remember the Independence Day celebrations at their schools. Many have memories of their grandparents, or their parents telling them stories, making them aware of how much had gone into getting the freedom.

Usha Kapil from Virginia has distinct memories of the Independence Day and the struggle preceding it. One of her uncles was involved in the freedom struggle as a young man, she told News India Times. “My uncle once took me to Gandhiji’s Prarthana Sabha. I was very happy to have seen him, and it left a deep impression on me,” she said. “As a child, whenever I was prompted to showcase my talent, I used to sing Sare Jahan Se Achcha Hindustan Hamara,” remembered Kapil. Kapil who was training to be a classical singer clearly remembers singing Vande Mataram as a teenager in Independence day celebrations, and being praised as a good singer.

“I remember drawing our flag every year and showcasing it,” told author Bijal Shah to News India Times. “Singing Jana Gana Mana every morning before school started is a beautiful memory. It still evokes a sense of pride and obedience. My family used to insist on standing up for the national anthem in movie theaters when we visited India,” Shah said.

Shah said her maternal grandfather was the editor and publisher of a newspaper and many times got in trouble with the British government for writing and printing articles supporting the freedom struggle. Shah’s mother, Shaila, told here those stories. Shah also remembers her grandmother telling her the story of how she once saw Gandhiji hop over a brick fence to stop a riot that broke suddenly. “From those stories, I learned of the efforts of India’s independence struggle, which also resulted in so much pride for the country,” Shah said. .

Gayatri Mathur of Chicago has emotional memories of hearing stories of her grandparents coming to India from Lahore. Mathur told News India Times she remembers stories her father and her grandmother told about those days. “My father who was 14 at that time of Independence, had strong memories of those days and wrote them down at my request for my children to understand where we came from,” Mathur said. Independence Day has had a very special meaning for her parents and also her own family in America, Mathur said. “We have a tradition of celebrating the day with making Sheera, a wheat flower sweet dish, even today,” Mathur said.

Traffic moves in front of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation building and the Chhatrapati Shivaji
Maharaj Terminus as they are lit up in the colours of India’s national flag ahead of the 75th Independence
Day celebrations, in Mumbai, India. Photo: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas

Padma Shri recipient Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Chairman of Parikh Worldwide Media and ITV Gold, told News India Times he has clear memories of celebrating India’s Independence Day in middle school and in high school years. “I remember going to school on 15th August and attending the flag hoisting,” he said. “There used to be many celebratory functions the whole day, and singing of patriotic songs, and songs from Manoj Kumar’s films,” he said. “Those were nice upbeat songs which fill us with joy even today,” he said. “The day was always special for us,” Parikh said.

For New York based filmmaker Tirlok Malik, memories of the Independence Day celebrations in school are hazy. “I remember my school in Delhi used to hold flag hoisting. We used to all sing the national anthem and other national and patriotic songs,” he told News India Times. In later years, on many of his visits to India, he said he has attended Independence Day celebrations in the India’s Capital, New Delhi. In New York, he regularly attends the celebrations at the Consulate.

Asha Shah of Jacksonville, Florida, has vivid memories of sitting around her grandmother and listening to stories of how her grandparents and their seven children left their mansion-like home and their thriving fabric business in Karachi. Growing up in Sion, Mumbai, she remembers celebrating Independence Day clearly. “Independence Day was a day of no classes. We used to go to the school in our uniforms early in the morning and attend the flag hoisting and sing the national songs. Then followed a party of a delicious lunch full of a variety of dishes for all of us students, after which we went home, she said. Again in the evening we would be back in the school in our uniforms and we would march down the street to the movie theater which was booked for the school for a patriotic or national film. Bystanders used to stop to watch us as we marched waving our flags, singing songs and doing ‘lezim’ to the theater.

Reshma Shah, New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker, has memories of celebrations in school. “We used to start practicing the national anthem and the patriotic songs a week before. On 15th August, we would go to school, attend the flag hoisting and sing all the songs,” Shah told News India Times. “We knew it was not a regular holiday,” she said. “We celebrate our Independence Day in our home here too,” she said. Starting the night before, wishing everyone in India a happy independence day, watching the national flag hoisting in Delhi, and then beginning greetings to Indian friends in the U.S. the next morning has been a tradition for Shah, she said.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here