Yesterday, Americans showed their patriotism by celebrating with barbeques, parades and fireworks. It was mostly a family event with everyone decked out in American flag wear or other “USA-ian” wear and the young ones as well as the young at heart proudly showing off their “American-ness”.
When I try to compare these celebrations with the Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations in India, I see a big difference in the “fun quota”.
Growing up, Independence Day had a flag-hoisting ceremony with most of us trying to get out of it since we miss half a day of holiday. Republic Day meant watching the parade on TV in the morning. There was no excitement or looking forward to these holidays. Diwali meant fireworks and presents – Independence day was just another holiday – In some ways, it was worse than regular holidays because of the “obligatory-ness” of the rituals. “ Oh…we are supposed to have a holiday but I HAVE to go to school to participate in the flag –hoisting ceremony :(” Waking up to read the paper, meant another “not-so-happy” start to the day. Most papers celebrated these national holidays with op-eds sadly moaning how much is lacking in the progress that has been made.. I would be the first to state the freedom of speech is one of the great rights of democracy and I am proud of India being a democratic nation where we feel free to criticize ourselves but does that put us in a celebratory mood? Definitely not……!!! 🙂
Granted, these are old memories and may not reflect the current day Indian celebrations but I would take a guess and say not much has changed…I know the history of the Indian freedom struggle as well as any other kid born and brought up in India – There were definitely a lot of sacrifices made to get us to our freedom and by no means do I want to minimize those struggles but if we want our future generations to look back with fond memories of Independence or Republic Day celebrations, I suggest we find more rituals where they would willingly participate in.
I am not for aping the West just to be “Western” – so am not suggesting we start barbequing or bursting fireworks but voluntary participation by the kids in our Independence and Republic Day celebration rituals is the only way they can carry forward our pride in the holidays which gave us our freedom and constitution.
Since I am not an Oracle of wisdom, I don’t have any ready-made answers or suggestions to enhance our national celebration style…. That’s what I’m hoping to learn from you….please let me know in the comments section and I am willing to have my kids be the first guinea pigs for the enhanced celebration style.