Most countries in the world have one. Of course, the USA have the very best. Hungary claims to have the oldest. And India? India has the biggest! Over 1.2 Billion people celebrate the liberation from the British Raj and the birth of the world’s largest democracy.
Preparations have been going on for weeks. First, I was curious where the drumming was coming from. Every afternoon between one and four o’clock it was booming through the hole town. Then, one day, I was on my way home when I found the source of the noise. A whole school was assembled on a yard. Everyone standing in rank and file. And then, suddenly, the drums started playing. And the whole school started marching. From one end of the yard to the other. And then back again. I have to admit, I was a bit estranged.
In the monastery, they explained me: Independence Day is just a few days away. On the 15.8.1947 Britain surrendered control of India, after almost two hundred years of more or less direct rule. And the world’s biggest democracy was born. That is, of course, a good reason for celebration and outside of Germany people like to stage parades for this kind of events.
And since not much is going on in Kalimpong, everybody is quite excited about the holiday and preparations run high. The balustrades are freshly painted in the national colours and a lot of tradespeople appear in town. And me? I am excited about Independence day, too and on Saturday I go to Kalimpong directly after breakfast.
The parade starts early, around six o’clock and takes the whole day. Kalimpong remains closed for cars, so I can finally walk through the streets without being startled every minute by sudden honking.
The celebration focuses on the two locations, the main road with the freshly painted balustrades. And the football stadium, where the students of all of Kalimpong’s schools line up for their parade through town.
People are excited and use every elevation in the area to get a better view of the events on the football field. I still find it a bit strange that Indian independence is celebrated by marching through the city, wearing school uniforms and playing music in the style of the former colonial masters. The Indians have such a good sense for fashion why not at least design proper school uniforms?
However people don’t seem to mind and the atmosphere is joyful. Since no alcohol is served the latent aggressive mood of German fairs is absent. The only thing I really miss is good music and so I go back to the monastery after enjoying a good lunch.