The first time I heard about the Wagah Border ceremony was when one of my mother's friends had witnessed this spectacle. It was a display of one's patriotism towards the nation. After hearing the stories from her, I did not believe most of what she narrated to us.
After she left, I found my solitude in the great Google. I began my research work on what exactly happens at this border! And why is it so hyped?
Another question that struck me was, India shares its borders not only with Pakistan but also with Nepal, China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Afghanistan. But why only this particular border is much spoken about?
I began my search on YouTube to see what exactly happens at the gates. Bringing down the tricolour at dusk and raising it at dawn is something which one can see even at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, but without all the action, that takes place at the border.
The videos to an extent pleased me I must say, but I wanted to get a hands-on experience of the ceremony. So I began my research work on how to get there and I booked tickets from Bengaluru to Delhi and from there by road to Wagah border via Amritsar.
After getting off at Delhi, we had coordinated with one of our family friends who lives in Delhi to take us to the Wagah border. As this person holds a respectable position in the Central Government we could get hold of the VIP passes to witness the ceremony.
After spending the night in Delhi, we started our journey early morning the next day, to reach Amritsar. Yes, The Golden Temple, it sure is something which you cannot describe with words.
The Filling Lunch
We paid our respects at the temple and decided to have lunch at the langar which is served to all the people who visit the golden temple, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion etc.
PC: Ken Wieland
After the lunch, we started our journey to our destination - the Wagah Border, which is around 30 km from Amritsar.
Along with hundreds of other people, we walked from where the vehicle dropped us into the main area. It is an oval area with concrete steps for people to sit and a huge gate cutting through the middle. The gate is the border of India and Pakistan.
We find our place marked out for the holders of the VIP pass, and amongst others we sat and wait for the ceremony to begin. We could see people holding the tricolour amongst the crowd and some had painted the tricolour on their cheeks to show patriotism.
PC: Ken Wieland
The wait was like hours before something could happen, and taking all of us by surprise, the action began. The crowd appeared to be lacking energy and looked dead, but when the 'bhangra' music began, the dead crowd turned alive.
A few of them alighted the steps and gathered at the centre of the arena dancing, hollering and radiating the pride of the country. The BSF Jawans handed over giant flags to a few people and conducted a race from the centre of the arena to the border gates and back again. One can see people of all age groups taking part in the race.
Read More : The Land Of Golden Temple - Amritsar
Next, the army officials came out on both sides of the border, what I can only describe as a shouting match.
But it just seemed the people with the microphones simply shouted the names of their own countries or regions, seeing who would hold it up for the longest duration and who would be the loudest.
PC: Peter van Aller
The Fiery Patriots!
After which the army officials proceed into a marching formation across the middle arena, in their grand uniforms, complete with red turbans, and not the camouflage ones.
Among the six soldiers, one gave the command to his men and stomped his foot hard on the ground. I have never seen a man kicking one foot up quite as high as him, and I feel pretty confident that I would never see anyone who can beat him.
During this, the gates between the two countries are opened, and both armies continue their marching towards each other and their rituals become something comparable to a war cry as the two groups direct their patriotism at each other.
PC: Stefan Krasowski
After all that build up, the second where the two head officers from each country shake hands (which could easily be missed in the blink of an eye), the gates are closed, flags lowered, and the ceremonies are over.
Without a doubt it is wonderful; there is no chance that you won't enjoy the Wagah Border Ceremony. It is an incredible piece of cultural curiosity that should not be missed. One thing is for certain, you will leave asking yourself this question - 'Did all of this actually just happen?!'