Today marks India’s Independence Day. It’s a day of real celebration, with festivities planned weeks in advance – and parties often lasting long into the night.
It’s a scene quite hard to picture from the UK, which doesn’t have an equivalent. (Funny, that!)
And for expats or second-generation Indians, their experiences can be very different. I spoke to a few families to hear what Independence Day means to them.
Richa (also @urbanmantra1 on Instagram) is busy mama of two.
She lives in Singapore, and despite having never lived in India, said it’s an important day for her:
“I reflect on the remarkable story behind our independence movement and the unique way in which we gained it through non-violent means… We are not a perfect society – but consider the sheer diversity we represent and it is amazing to think that we have survived, let alone progressed.
“Now as a parent, I like to recognize the day with my children too. We make it fun by doing crafts and colouring the flag and singing the national anthem! Like me, my children will not grow up in India and may have a complicated sense of identity with it. But ultimately, I hope they feel a kinship and affiliation to their motherland.”
Nayana Chakrabarti (also @themigratorymum on instagram) from Switzerland said:
“We spent every single summer of my childhood in India. I have very vivid memories of settling down with my grandmother in the morning to watch patriotic songs played on the tiny black and white TV which was her lifeline to the world.
“At some point, the great and the good of the ‘para’ (the neighborhood) would gather to the tune of the National Anthem, portraits of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi would be garlanded; I would see a school procession parade down the main street of our suburb, it was a real moment. A real treat. As Independence Day drew to a close, I knew it was nearly time for my to say goodbye to India itself for another year.”
Kim Auker (also @thefrolickingtree on instagram), is an American married to an Indian. I first connected with Kim over raising children in a natural environment and slow-living. I was instantly curious when I found out that she was raising her children in India,
“When we lived in India, we would spend the summers at my in-laws home. There is a school down the road from their house and beginning in late July we would hear the drums sounding; I was always amazed at the dedication of the students preparing for the parade for Indian Independence day. This year we plan to make Indian flags for an activity in celebration on Aug 15.
“When we make the flags for Independence day this year, we will talk about what the different parts of the flag represent: saffron represents strength of the country and its people, white with the wheel represents peaceful change and truth, and green represents fertility and growth of the land. “Happy Independence Day!”
Lavanya is India-born but living in Britain with husband and two spirited daughter.
She told me: “For me, celebrating Independence day is of course about acknowledging our freedom fighters and gratitude, but also about decolonising our everyday practices which is just as crucial. Politically, it has to be about the welfare of the population instead of just hollow nostalgia.
My children crave to be in India, but that is of course not an option right now. We’re going to watch some films about the Indian independence and read too. They devour this history with a lot of curiosity all the time. My love for the nation was formed by my father’s sincere love for the
motherland, his patriotism was gentle, and not forced upon us as kids.”
Happy Independence Day to you all. What are you best Independence Day memories?