Remembering India’s fallen in World War I

November 11, 2016 06:25 pm | Updated April 22, 2021 07:27 pm IST - Brussels

A soldier places a poppy wreath during an Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium on Friday.

A soldier places a poppy wreath during an Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium on Friday.

World leaders gathered in Belgium on Friday to mark the 98th anniversary of the end of World War I in which 1.5 lakh Indian soldiers participated as part of the largest volunteer Army in the world.

On November 11, 1918 — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — the Allies and Germany formally signed an Armistice agreement ending their fight.

Nearly a century later, several nations continue to observe Armistice Day every November 11 in remembrance of more than 17 million lives that were lost in the Great War — that later came to be known as World War I.

At the Indian War Memorial, in the little town of Ypres, a few among the millions of Belgians who still remain thankful to India’s support pay tribute to the Indian martyrs in a memorial concert along with Indian soldiers from some of the regiments which fought in the Great War.

Hans Vermeersch, a Belgian music composer, does an extraordinary thing at the Indian war memorial by holding a concert as his personal tribute to the martyrs of India.

Mr. Vermeersch, married to an Indian Finla Noronha, has promoted Indian music worldwide, particularly of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and the Carnatic tradition.

He has also unearthed from the British Museum copies of Rabindranath Tagore’s original notations and claims now to play Rabindrasangeet in the way Rabindranath and his companions actually composed them during their journeys to Europe.

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