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My experience of patriotic fervor at Wagah Border, Amritsar

Guest post by Sriya Pardhu
After our visit to the historical site of Jallianwala Bagh and Golden Temple, we visited yet another important historic site and a must-see place / event. The Wagah Border ceremony where we had a thrilling experience of standing between the Indo-Pak border.

As it was summer, the weather was too hot in Amritsar and was unbearable. In spite of the scorching heat, I guess it could be around 45 degrees Centigrade, the place was heavily crowded with visitors of all age groups and foreign visitors too. As the weather was terrible in summer, we chose to sit in a shady place instead of sitting on the jam-packed steps which gave the appearance of a cricket stadium.
Wagah Border is the only road border that lies on the Grand Trunk Road between Amritsar in Punjab (India) and Lahore in Punjab (Pakistan). The road border is at a distance of nearly 20 Km from both the cities of Amritsar and Lahore.

'Beating Retreat' ceremony at the border takes place everyday before sunset by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and by the Pakistan Rangers. The ceremony culminates i.e ends with the lowering of the flags of the neighboring countries which is well coordinated. This cross international border ceremony is popularly known as Wagah Border ceremony and it attracts thousands and thousands of Indian and foreign tourists.

As this is not a ticketed event, neither there is systematic entry / exit nor systemic seating. However, there is very tight security with separate lines / queues for ladies and gents. The security check up is done before entering into the arena. Everyone is curious to watch the historic event. Everyone stands and shouts with high spirits least bothering about the visibility for the visitors sitting on the back rows. That's the patriotic fervor of the mad crowd who are least concerned about their fellow Indians. At this overcrowding place, you can see the striking attitude of a typical Indian i.e 'I must occupy a better place and I must have a better view'

After the long wait, suddenly there was action with loud shouts of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' in the mike and mesmerized crowd shouted 'Jai' in high decibels. As it's summer, the ceremony started at around 5.30 p.m.
Before the beginning of the ceremony few girls and ladies who were invited, lined up to carry the flag and run up to particular spot close to the border gate and back. I am sure, it was a moment of pride for the girls and ladies to wave the Tricolor flags and run with great enthusiasm while Hindi patriotic songs were played as background in high decibels. There was cheer and applause from the crowd.
There was a carnival type of atmosphere and high spirits among the crowd. You can see a similar atmosphere on the other side of the closed gate where you can see Pakistani people with equal spirit.
Two soldiers marching towards the closed Gate
The BSF soldiers (both men and women) are in their typical uniform with unique red head gears that spread out like paper made folded fans (peacock feathers).
After the festive atmosphere, Beating the Retreat ceremony began and the BSF soldiers marched the typical way with kicking legs unusually high. It was a grand parade and there was cheering and hgih patriotic feeling on both sides of the border gate. When the parade came to an end, two women soldiers marched up to the gate. Though we couldn't view clearly, we came to know that similarly two Rangers from the other side marched up to the gate. The Indian BSF soldiers and Pakistani Rangers open the gates, meet and greet each other. At sunset, simultaneously pulled down / lower the flags, folded with due respect and keep inside.
This marks the closure of the ceremony and the crowd disperse carrying with them memorable / patriotic feeling. Many visitors go near the border and take pics of the neighboring country across the border.

We had a wonderful patriotic experience at Wagah Border and I feel that every Indian enjoys the ceremony with patriotic fervor. The most disgusting experience is that a majority of local tourists are a bit indiscipline and unruly. In spite of those drawbacks, the ceremony is worth watching and the place is worth a visit.


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