India will celebrate its 68th republic day tomorrow on 26th January, 2017. The pride of the country will be seen in march pasts, rallies and other cultural programs as part of the republic day parade at Rajpath. Many television shows will lose their audience to the live telecast of republic day parades tomorrow because India will celebrate. Because on 26th January, 1950, our constitution came into being & independent India became republic.
I always participated in cultural programs and republic day speeches when I was growing up. It was important for me to dress in white, pin up the tricolor ribbons to my dress, show up in spite of high fever and bag some trophies. I looked forward to Republic day & Independence day, every year.
After the customary national anthem, our music teachers generally organized a 15 minute long choir singing wherein we sang many patriotic songs. I want to share one of my favorite songs with you:
भारत हमको जान से प्यारा है
सबसे न्यारा गुलिस्ताँ हमारा है
सदियों से भारत भूमि दुनिया की शान है
भारत माँ की रक्षा में जीवन कुर्बान है
India is a country of ‘Unity in Diversity’. We love; we fight; we respect and we all are very proud of our country. On the eve of Republic day, I want to share a few glimpses of India, captured during my trips over the past two years.
1. Proud India
We, Indians, are proud of our culture, our heritage and our struggles. Yes, you read that right. We are proud of our struggles too. We name our streets, our colleges, hospitals buildings after the great warriors, freedom fighters and scholars our country has seen. And we love that. I particularly love these memorials that you may find in the main streets of some cities. This one has been brought to you from the Mall road of Shimla.
ऐ मेरे वतन के लोगों
ज़रा आँख में भर लो पानी
जो शहीद हुए हैं उनकी
ज़रा याद करो क़ुरबानी
संगीन पे धर कर माथा
सो गये अमर बलिदानी
जो शहीद हुए हैं उनकी
ज़रा याद करो क़ुरबानी
2. Secular India: many religions, one nation!
India has probably seen more than its share of religious riots. And in spite of that, we still remain united, we remain one – one nation. India is the country of APJ Abdul Kalam as much as it is of Swami Vivekananda. We grew up celebrating Diwali, Christmas, Gurunanka Jayanti & Eid with equal fervour & writing essays on all these festivals in schools.
Badami, in Karnataka, is popular for a bunch of exquisite caves. At the entrance of those caves, I saw this beautiful temple and a mosque just behind that temple. I can’t explain harmony better than this.
मंदिर यहाँ, मस्जिद वहाँ, हिन्दू यहाँ, मुस्लिम यहाँ
मिलते रहें हम प्यार से, जागो
हिन्दुस्तानी नाम हमारा है, सबसे प्यारा देश हमारा है
मजहब नहीं सिखाता आपस में बैर रखना
हिन्दी हैं हम, वतन है हिन्दोस्तां हमारा
Lord Buddha gave his first sermon here in Sarnath, India. Proud!
3. Gracious India, of Atithi Devo Bhava!
India believes in ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ meaning ‘Guest is God’. We welcome all whole-heartedly. This is probably why people from all over the world don’t bat an eyelid before flying to India and staying here for months altogether and sometimes years.
It’s said that Beatles stayed in Rishikesh for a long, long time and wrote the most popular songs of their career here in Rishikesh.
4. India, of snake charmers, cow worshippers and more!
The world thought us as a country that charmed snakes and rode elephants, for long. Well, that wasn’t it. We are that and more. We love our pets and we don’t fear easy. Here!
Meet the lady I met in Shimla. You could get a picture clicked with the snake only for INR 10. Wierd, I know!
Here are some very docile, friendly cows we met on our trek to Mullayangiri, Chikmangalour, Karnataka.
And here’s my favorite- the elephant named Vinayaka from Tamil Nadu. The care takers loved him dearly. Vinayaka had a very elaborate diet and ate quite frequently. It takes 4 people, 3 hours to give Vinayaka a clean and long bath.
5. Ancient India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari!
It is said that India is a country of small countries, put together. Our geography, our terrain, our vegetation, our culture, our food and our languages vary every 100 kms. & change from one state to another, for all 29 states. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
यूनान-ओ-मिस्र-ओ-रूमा सब मिट गए जहाँ से
अब तक मगर है बाक़ी नाम-ओ-निशाँ हमारा
कुछ बात है कि हस्ती मिटती नहीं हमारी
सदियों रहा है दुश्मन दौर-ए-ज़माँ हमारा
सारे जहाँ से अच्छा हिन्दोस्तां हमारा
हम बुलबुलें हैं इसकी ये गुलिस्तां हमारा