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Home > National Festivals
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Jawaharlal NehruIndependence Day

Independence Day, August 15, commemorates the day in 1947 when India achieved freedom from British rule. The day is celebrated to commemorate the birth of the world`s biggest democracy as a national festival. At the stroke of midnight, as India moved into August 15, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, India`s first Prime Minister, read out the famous speech proclaiming India`s independence.

The moment ended the 300years rule of the British. The land was no longer the summer retreat of British sahibs who fancied spices, shikar, elephants and snake-charmers. Independence was also the end of nearly a century of struggle for freedom, battles, betrayals and sacrifices. It also created a situation where we were responsible for ourselves.

But it wasn`t a period of unqualified joy. For a lot of people, in spite of a new era promised by independence, partition was a painful reality and so was the bloodshed that accompanied it. That was 58 years ago. Much has changed; the struggle for freedom lives on in history books and memoirs, and on the tombstones of valiant martyrs. Politics has undergone a personality change from fiery idealism to a pragmatic cynicism.

Till Independence, there is no true national festival that the whole country could take part of. Independence Day, beginning as a day to commemorate the greatest moment in Indian history, has now come to signify a feeling of nationalism, solidarity and celebration. Independence Day remained the sole national festival till India declared itself a republic in 1950. On January 26, 1950, Republic Day became the second Indian national festival.

Independence day is celebrated with flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programs in the state capitals. The Prime Minister`s speech at the Red Fort in Delhi is the major highlight. All Government Organisations have a holiday, as 15th August is a National holiday. In the capital New Delhi most of the Government Offices are lit up. In all the cities around the country, the Flag Hoisting is done by eminent people.

Independence DayAugust 15, Independence Day, is celebrated in a mood of abandon and joy - no rituals, just festivities. It is also a national holiday so educational institutions, private and government organisations remaining closed, after the official celebrations in the morning is over.

Schools and colleges mark the day with cultural activities, drills, flag hoisting and distribution of sweets. Government as well as private organisations celebrate it.

There is a tradition of flying kites on the Independence Day. The sky is dotted with hundreds of colourful kites and people engage in kite-flying competitions. Kites painted with the three colours of the national flag are a hot favourite. Balconies and roof-tops of houses are full of people flying kites and one can hear cheerful shouts of children in the evening as the kites soar in the sky.
In cities, one sees a sudden burst of saffron, green and white, the Indian tri-colour. The media goes to town with a variety of contests, promotions and programmes related to Indian independence. Television channels show patriotic movies and relentlessly play patriotic songs from old and new Hindi movies. Billboards on roadsides for different brands pay their tribute to the nation.

Each year, August 15 gives us the reason to celebrate all this, and do much more - it is a time to contemplate what we have and how we achieved it.

Republic Day

Republic Day ParadeRepublic Day is India`s great national festival. It is celebrated every year on January 26, in New Delhi with great pomp and pageant and in capitals of the States, as well as at other headquarters and important places with patriotic fervour.

A pledge was taken at the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of December 31, 1929 - January 1, 1930 by the nationalists. Tri-colour flag was unfurled and they vowed that every year on January 26, the "Independence Day" would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. The professed pledge was successfully redeemed on 26 January, 1950, when the Constitution of India framed by the Constituent Assembly of India came into force. Although, the Independence from the British rule was achieved on August 15, 1947.It is because of this, that August 15 is celebrated as Independence Day, while January 26 as Republic Day.

Republic Day reminds us of the fulfillment of the pledge that was made on the midnight of Independence as a "tryst with destiny". It is future-oriented, a vision of India that we nourish, an acceptance of responsibility and making of promises as well as recapitulation of the achievements. The act of framing the Constitution puts a spotlight on B.R. Ambedkar whose indefatigable labour and sharp insights helped the preparation of the document.

On Republic day, the pledge is renewed. Republic Day is without speeches. It is the only ceremony in which rhetoric is in the background and visuals are given priority. Republic Day is celebrated all over the country at all the administrative units like the capital cities, district headquarters, sub divisions, talukas, and panchayats. The major ceremonies at Delhi and the state capitals revolve around the parade in which all the Defence Services, police contingents, Home guards and Civil Defence, NCC, school children and cultural troupes participate followed by a display of tableaux and folk dances.

At Delhi, the most spectacular celebrations include the march past of the three Armed Forces, massive parades, folk dances by tribal folk from the different states in picturesque costumes marking the cultural unity of India. Further, the streak of jet planes of Indian Air Force, leaving a trial of coloured smoke, marks the end of the festival. The trees on both sides of the routes and the lawns become alive with spectators.

The day has acquired the status of a social celebration in which people participate whole-heartedly as spectators. Though, the parade is the main ceremony, various activities spill over from early morning when prabhat pheris (morning rounds) are held followed by a homage to Gandhi. The parade is succeeded by sports events in the afternoon. `At Home` functions at the Raj Bhavan, at the District Magistrate`s and at the SDM`s are followed by illumination of public buildings of the state capitals and administrative headquarters.

Republic Day is gradually acquiring the status as that of the 4th of July in USA. The celebrations are universal, total and participatory, children take part in a big way. Variations in culture are displayed through colourful attires and folk dances. The traditional predominates along with a touch of modernity reflected in the display of might (latest defence gadgetry and acquisitions), technology and capabilities of growth in various sectors. The parade symbolizes the might; the tableaux are predominated by cultural motifs.

The celebration is thus, homage to the past, the region and the nation that is a true republic and imposes nothing. The patriotic fervor of the Indian people on this day brings the whole country together even in her embedded diversity.

Gandhi Jayanti

Mahatma GandhiGandhi Jayanti, a national festival of India, is celebrated to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the "Father of the Nation". It is celebrated on October 2, every year. It is one of the three official declared National Holidays of India and is observed in all its states and union territories.

He is the man who played a significant role in achieving independence for India from the British Empire with his simplicity and strong will power. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as `Bapu` or `Father of the nation`, was born on the 2nd of October in 1869, in Porbunder, Gujarat. He studied law in U.K and practiced law in South Africa. But he left his profession and returned to India to join the Indian freedom struggle.

He established the Satyagraha Ashram in Ahmedabad and the Sabarmati Ashram, which became a platform for introducing long-needed social reforms such as `Harijan` welfare, small-scale industries and self-reliance and rehabilitation of lepers. Gandhi protested against the Rowlatt Bills and started a non-violent non-cooperation movement in India against the tyrant British rule. He violated the Salt Law by marching to Dandi in March 1930 and making salt and started the Civil Disobedience Movement in January 1932. In 1942, he nailed in the final nail in the grave of the British Government with his `Quit India` movement. He led his life that confirmed to his preaching. His morality and his doctrines on non-violence have become a beacon of light for the world.

Five months after independence, Gandhiji was assassinated by Nathuram Godse while on his way to his daily prayer meeting. The 78-year-old Father of the Nation had left a country that was just discovering its feet, orphaned. His birthday was recognised as a National holiday.

It was on this day in A.D.1927, that the Indian National Congress, then fighting its non-violent struggle for independence, declared for Total Independence as against Dominion Status, and the members took the pledge to work for a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India.

 Raj GhatPeople pay a visit to Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Gandhiji and various museums and Ashrams on this day. Popular celebration includes prayer meetings, commemorative ceremonies in different cities by colleges, local government institutions and socio-political institutions. Painting and essay competitions are conducted and best awards are awarded for projects in schools and the community, on themes of glorifying peace, non-violence and Gandhi`s effort in Indian Freedom Struggle. Most of the clubs, hotels and social organizations, Government houses hold Republic day dinners. Usually, Gandhi`s favourite song, Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram is sung in his memory.
Mahatma Gandhi`s contribution towards bringing peace and non-violence to this world is unparalleled. His teachings must be promoted to resolve current conflicts, avoid violence, and find peaceful solutions and to make our world a better place to live.

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