A pre-independence child looks back on the joys of Independence Day in the early years

A pre-independence child looks back on the joys of Independence Day in the early years Cover Image

Our forefathers fought and suffered so that we are a free country today. We need to keep the memories and stories of those times alive and teach our children to value the great and proud nation that they are a part of. Independence Day celebrations are a time to look back on our history and think about the people we owe for the freedom we enjoy today!

What we achieved on August 15, 1947 is the testament to the long freedom struggle mounted by our elders, led by leaders like Tilak, Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and other great souls. They sacrificed their normal comfortable living and suffered multiple bouts of imprisonment to fight with the British in various ways to give us our present status of being masters of our own country.

Independence Day, as we celebrated it in the earlier days, was full of gaiety – although of a different sort! In spite of being a holiday, we all went to school in our best clothes (sometimes in all whites) early in the morning. Some of the children, who were Boy Scouts and Girl Guides showed off with their impressive uniforms-khaki for boys and dark blue for girls with scarf around the necks.

pre-independence march past

Flag hoisting was always a dramatic affair, with the flag being unfurled with blowing of bugles (albeit somewhat out of tune!) and with flowers sprinkling out when the folded flag opened out with all of us saluting in our own ways. There were sweets to be eaten and we would trek back, in two parallel single files, noisily chanting many slogans of those days like ‘Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai’, ‘Vande Mataram’.

Getting our National Anthem right was a process by itself. Jana Gana Mana, in its original form consisted of five full stanzas in all, written, composed and scored by Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in 1911 in highly Sanskritized Bengali. We used to hear the recorded rendition of all the five stanzas over ‘All India Radio’ for many days and hence had really got used to the catchy tune.

Finally, the version which comprised only the first stanza of the song was adopted as the National Anthem of India on 24th January 1950. However, we had been used to the tune and had little difficulty in singing the new National Anthem thereafter at the time of flag hoisting at every Independence Day celebration (although many of us got our ‘Ucchala’ and ‘Utkala’ mixed up every time!).

Only some grand dads like me are around to possibly remember the patriotic fervor and the spirit implanted in us by the great Dandi March of the Mahatma, marching to ’Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja’ of Netaji in our Prabhat Pheris or by the rousing speeches of Jawaharlal. While we participated our I’day celebrations, memories were still fresh of the rallies we ourselves had taken in part before 1947 to kindle that fire in the belly!

Freedom gives us rights, but also calls for a lot of responsibility to be good citizens. Gandhiji taught us that, apart from hard work, whatever we may do that impacts others’ lives, should be filled with empathy for their feelings and needs. Being helpful to those who are less fortunate than ourselves should define our role in a country like ours to make our life meaningful. When we have a strong bond of love and brotherhood between each other, our country will grow into a strong nation. That should give us the real joy of being Independent!

This true meaning and spirit of Independence and what it cost us to attain it are worth passing on to the generations to come. The courage, discipline and the spirit of ‘non violence’ enshrined by our leaders while confronting the British, embodies the true significance of this great date. It is indeed our hard fought legacy and it is our sacred duty to instill the same values that Gandhiji and others emulated by their personal example.

Some links to songs of those days:

Door Hato Aye Duniyawalon Hindustan Hamara Hai:

Vaishnava Janato tene Kahiye- the most favourite song of Gandhiji:

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