I want to share a part of India’s culture that can reduce even the strongest man into a blubbering mass. If you have not seen the Wagah Border ceremony live, you have really missed something in life.
Each evening the Indian military, and the Pakistani Rangers step out to the cheers of thousands of spectators. While one side screams “Pakistan Zindabad”, the other shouts “Jai Hind”. Wearing almost identical military regalia of boots, spats, uniforms, metals, and plumed hats the two sides are distinguishable by the differing colors of their uniforms: dark green for the Pakistani Rangers and tan for the Indian Military. Heated looks, mimicked threats, goose stepping and the slap of boots hitting the pavement are all part of the ritual and the movements all bear a distinct resemblance to those of angry birds. Carrying loaded weapons the two sides perform a final elaborate series of steps, speed marching towards each other in an aggressive dance before meeting in the middle and taking the flags down simultaneously. There is the briefest of handshakes with the angriest of looks in their eyes and then the gates are closed. The ceremony, for that day at least, is over.
In that one visit you’ll see the fervor that spreads amongst the crowds of both sides. You can slice the emotional thickness in the air with an ax. People are so overwhelmed and overcome with the patriotism and the display of anger and pride by their respective militaries that the majority break down and shed a tear or two. Angry shouting of slogans of Jai Hind (on the Indian side) by grown men with tears in their eyes is what marks the actual end of the evening’s ceremony. The same is reciprocated on the other side. As you step down, you notice that neither side hates the bordered land, it’s just that they love the one they live in too much. You’ll may even shed a tear as you walk back to your waiting car.
With it’s in your face diversity, sun washed beaches, tranquil temples, elaborate festivals and crowded cities; love it or hate it, India promises to jostle your entire being.