Thursday, August 20, 2015

Happy Independence Day, India and Pakistan!

Last week the streets of London rang with the celebrations that marked the separation of India and Pakistan and their declaration of independence from the British Empire.

The Indian national flag raised over the Red Fort in Agra
image from Wikipedia 

Celebrations started on the 14th of August, the Pakistani celebration. Families dressed in the colours of the Pakistan flag paraded ahead of decorated cars down Green Street in East London. Car horns blared, people cheered and blew noisemakers, and fireworks popped overhead.

The energy of the day seemed endless, the noise and good cheer lasting into the late hours of the night. Some years the parade is held in the city centre, as in this 2007 celebration in Trafalgar Square, celebrating 60 years of independence.

Piper of the Pakistani Patiala Pipe Band
image from

By contrast Indian and Pakistani Londoners celebrate more quietly. Secular celebrations include screenings of patriotic and historical films, performances from famous actors and artists, and family oriented festivals. But many of the more devout citizens prefer to stay at home, fasting, in prayer, reading sacred texts or tales of their gods and sages.

Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati
image from Wikipedia

London itself has thoughtful tributes to some of the great teachers who made their way to British shores. As the wonder | wander | women also come from post-colonial roots, we are fascinated by the relationship between Britain, India, and Pakistan. We love to find the ways in which their culture and people have contributed to the modern British world.

Tree planted in memory of an Indian student of UCL

This tree shades a statue of the great Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, author of the Thirukkural, an ancient code of conduct which is one of the oldest and most revered works of Tamil literature.

Another monument is to a more modern figure with an equally great legacy, the first ever Asian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore is most famously known as a poet and philosopher, but was also an incredibly talented essayist, novelist and composer.

Tagore's 'Nationalism', a collection of essays on Indian politics and identity, inspired Mahatma Gandhi in much of his own work. The story of Indian independence is complex and can be traced back through rich traditions of literature as well as history.

We wish the best for India and Pakistan on their Independence Day!

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