Freedom has always meant different things to different people. While for some, it is the happiness of hoisting the tricolour, for others is the euphoria that follows a big victory for the National Cricket Teams. But regardless of its relevance, it is largely agreeable that freedom cannot be contained, fore must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it.”
On Independence Day, we asked four persons from different walks of life how they view the day if they see any change in its relevance, their memories that they dearly hold on to, and what they want future generations to know; here is what they said.
Sudhanshu Rai, 35
Sudhanshu Rai is a new-age storyteller who grew up celebrating Independence Day by making kites and watching them soar in the sky. “There used to be a competition of sorts as to whose kite would take off first. Members of my family, along with some friends would come together for a session, while there would be music playing in the background. Apart from this, we would also binge-watch patriotic movies like Gandhi,” he recalls.
Over the years, the rituals changed and have now been replaced with staying indoors and organising a get-together with friends. “Since I am a storyteller, a highlight of these meetups has always been my exclusive storytelling sessions. This year, we might not have these sessions and I will certainly miss it,” Rai says.
On being asked if there was a particular Independence Day that he misses fondly, Rai thinks back to 1990 and says: “There was the feeling of patriotism running high in Dilli. I still remember the day — it was drizzling, patriotic songs were being played on loudspeakers all around, and people were out of their houses, celebrating the day on the streets.”
Mauris Noronha, 45
Mauris Noronha, who has served food to nearly 3 lakh people in Mumbai since April 2020, wishes for everybody else to serve at least three people around them. “Kindness is not just limited to money; one can support another and help maintain social and mental well-being,” he tells indianexpress.com.
For Noronha, this day holds much importance because not only is it the celebration of the country’s independence, but being a catholic, he also gets to celebrate the Feast of Assumption of Mother Mary. He says: “For as long as I can remember, we would go to the church to celebrate the feast. This would usually be followed by flag hoisting in our neighbourhood, with my grandmother then preparing her special sweet patalios (pancakes ) which we would relish throughout the day.”
For him, the most memorable Independence Day has been the first time he had celebrated it at school. “I was in my second grade, and we were asked by our teacher to dress up as a national leader who had fought for freedom. I chose to dress up as Gandhi Ji. His idea of fighting for our freedom without violence had always intrigued me as a child.”
Noronha believes that these days, it is solely treated as a holiday and more needs to be done to remember the sacrifices made by people. “The long and hard battle was fought for many years. As we all seek freedom in all aspects of life, we should strive to be more responsible and caring citizens,” he says.
Surya Suri, 28
Surya Suri believes that over the years we have undergone a sea of changes, as people and also as a society. “The perception concerning nationalism has also changed. We are more vocal about it than ever,” Suri, who is the owner of a fashion label, says. With time, he says, “the younger generation needs to realise their potential and strive to excel in whatever they pursue”. “There is a need to follow your passion and overcome all obstacles in the path, especially in the wake of the current scenario.”
He also believes that “our motherland has given us a lot, and we must have the intention to give it back in whichever way and whenever possible.”
Suri recalls how Independence Day — back when he was young — used to be celebrated with much fervour. “Flying kites was a tradition for us. I used to dress up in kurta-pyjama, and we used to attend the flag hoisting ceremony in school.” His favourite part of the day, however, was when sweets were distributed among the kids. Suri says this year he can’t do much, but flying kites is still manageable. “While things are anything but ordinary in the prevailing pandemic scenario, this is one activity that’s still doable and I would certainly take it up.”
Neelima Sinha, 54
Neelima Sinha, who works with a flower boutique, says that all through her childhood, Independence Day was a special occasion, wherein she would get to witness the various activities taking place everywhere. “I used to get up and head to school. We used to hoist the flag, take part in march-past along with a carnival where students from various other schools also came.” Her fondest memory of the day is when in the end, balloons would be let loose in the sky.
The ritual, however, changed when she started teaching at a school in Jhumri Telaiya in Jharkhand. “As a teacher, I used to take care of all the programmes right from making sure that the makeup of children enacting a skit was on point, to anchoring for the shows,” she shares.
Sinha also points out how over the years, the way of celebrating this day has changed. “Earlier we used to go out in parks, meet people and now everything has changed, it has become virtual. We listen to the PM’s speech, watch it on television or read up about it on the internet.”
While she is happy about how, for the emerging generations, the significance has changed, and how it is celebrated focusing on women empowerment, hunger and poverty, etc., she also urges people to not forget their traditional values, saying: “It is always important to welcome new cultures and learn something or the other from them. But, make it a point to never forget your traditional values.”
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