Independence Day for me..

August 16, 2006


Had a flag-hoisting ceremony in our apartment building; we had a turnout of nearly 70 people. One of the senior citizens hoisted the flag; I sang “SujalAm suphalAM”, () sujalAm suphalAm malayatha sheethalAm shashya shyAmaLam mAtharam vandE mAtharam

shubhra jyOthsnA pulakitha yAmineem phulla kusumitha dhrumadaLa shObhineem suvAsineem sumadhura bhhAshineem sukhadhAm varadhAm mAtharam vandE mAtharam

this song is from Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel in Bengali, “Ananda Matth”…set in the times of the wars of Indian independence.

(Oh, mother) who has good water, good fruits, and has the coolness of the mountain breeze, who has the green of plants and the evening colour of saffron..oh mother, I pay obeisance to you.

(who has) the delight of the pure moonlight, of the blossoming flowers decorating her, who dwells in good places, who speaks sweetly, who gives ease and happiness, who grants boons…oh mother, I pay obeisance to you.

There are several more stanzas…but these are the ones most often sung.

</lj-cut> a song describing India, set in the raagaa Desh (Desh means country) and then a Bengali national song with some Bong fellow-residents; and then we had Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, who is a resident here, speak about the colours of the national flag. She said that she didn’t want to speak in English, a foreign language, and spoke in Hindi, which only half the assembled gathering understood, and which the pro-Kannada contingent didn’t like! I thought KM took pictures but the CF card doesn’t show any fresh pics…must have used his non-digital SLR I guess.

I can’t understand why we should think of English only as a foreign language. It is truly becoming a world language now and I think we are lucky to have been gifted such a language that can link all of our multifarious languages without favouring one or the other…English IS the link language in India today and it’s either idealism or politics to think otherwise. Our success in the IT field which has put us on the world map to some extent is entirely due to our facility with English….and now, so many varieties of Inglish (Indian English) are evolving that we are truly making it our own.

In the evening, I was so happy to see almost every auto with a large Indian flag streaming in the breeze. We generally revile auto drivers as fleecers of the public, and sometimes criminals who hold up their passengers and rob them; this evidence of their being patriotic people felt great.

Our friends had driven down from Hampi; they described how every village on the way had flags flying….

We are, perhaps an old country, but as a democratic republic, we are 60 years old (very young in “nation” years)…and amazingly, the democracy works….