New Delhi, Weather from Weather Underground

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wagah Border Ceremony

From Wikipedia
"Wagah ( Urdu: واہگہ, Punjabi: ਵਾਘਾ) is the only road border crossing between Pakistan and India, and lies on the Grand Trunk Road between the cities of Lahore, Pakistan and Amritsar, India.

The Wagah border, often called the "Berlin Wall of Asia", is a ceremonial border on the India-Pakistan border where each evening there is a ceremony called 'lowering of the flags', which has been held since 1959. At that time there is an energetic parade by the Border Security Force (B.S.F) of India and the Pakistan Rangers soldiers. It may appear slightly aggressive and even hostile to foreigners but in fact the paraders are imitating the pride and anger of a Cockerel. Troops of each country put on a show in their uniforms with their colorful turbans. Border officials from the two countries sometimes walk over to the offices on the other side for day to day affairs. The happenings at this border post have been a barometer of the India-Pakistan relations over the years.

This ceremony takes place every evening before sunset at the Wagah border. The ceremony starts with a perfectly coordinated parade by the soldiers from both the sides and ends up in the lowering of the flags. One Jawan stands attention at the gate on each side. As the sun sets, the iron gate at the border is opened and the flags are lowered. The flag is folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a handshake between the soldiers. The grandeur of the ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border and tourists from all over the world to this 40–45 minutes of choreographed and routine display.

We traveled to Amritsar where we were met by "The Colonel," the head of security for Dan's company in Punjab. (See he and Dan above) He was in the Indian army for many years and lived in 12 locations throughout India. The Colonel is one of the most interesting people I have met in ages. Through his connections, he was able to get us tickets to view the lowering of the flags at the Wagah Border.

Some of the many check points that we had to go through on the way to the border ceremony.

Every evening at sunset the stands fill up with people from all over the world. The crowds spill into the streets dancing, singing, and cheering. "Long Live India" can be heard from the India side while chants and "Forever Pakistan" come from the across the border.

The Indian Border Security Force and their elaborate uniforms.

The lowering of the India and Pakistan flags is a carefully orchestrated and practiced event. The flags must be kept at the same level the entire time. If one were to dip lower than the other it would be a huge affront to the people of that country.
It was an incredible event to witness and still seems a little surreal that we were sitting on the India/Pakistan border. Five years ago, I would have never imagined this would be my/our life. Wouldn't trade it though.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I would love to go there are see the ceremony by myself one day. Thanks for the pictures!