METRO PLUS

Don't rain on my parade

Feeling the fervour An opportunity to revel in patriotism

Feeling the fervour An opportunity to revel in patriotism  

JAYASHREE ARUNACHALAM

January 26 always figures on our calendars, but how much does it matter? JAYASHREE ARUNACHALAM and SUVASINI SRIDHARAN get the city's pulse

Republic Day is synonymous with a lot of mental images: schoolchildren in pristine white with cardboard flags pinned to their collars, hawkers weaving their way through traffic selling plastic flags, street vendors doling out chuskis dyed orange, green and white, and the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in the background of the historical Red Fort. Ayesha Nawaz, a 45-year-old schoolteacher, has seen her share of parades in the Secunderabad Parade Grounds, but for her, the annual ritual hasn't lost its charm. “Watching row after row of regiments march past in perfect unison fills me with pride for my country,” she says. “It may sound clichéd, but it's a day to celebrate being Indian.”

The locals not only catch the parade in Hyderabad, but many also make it a point to catch the live telecast of the parade in New Delhi. It's almost a tradition for some. “I haven't missed watching the parade on television in ten years,” says 20-year-old Varshini Balan. “I know a lot of my friends find it strange that I insist on watching it, even if it means missing out on an outing. Maybe it's because of my father's army background. All I know is that the year is incomplete if I don't watch the parade.”

However, for most youngsters, patriotism does not automatically translate into an interest in the parade. College student Ahalya Sashidaran says, “I love my country and I like to think that I am patriotic, yet Republic Day doesn't hold too much significance for me. It simply means the flag-hoisting ceremony at college and a day off from classes.”

Ayesha deems most youngsters to have what she calls a cavalier attitude when it comes to days like these. “I find it appalling that many of my own students don't even know the difference between Independence Day, Republic Day and Martyrs' Day,” she says. “For them, it's just a day to have fun.”

Many who might have religiously watched the parade when they were young no longer find the time or energy to sit through it anymore. Work and other commitments have taken their toll and there's a tendency to look at January 26 as a much-needed holiday. “I'd rather take advantage of the day off, especially if it forms a long weekend, and go on a holiday with friends,” says media executive Sharath Prasad.

Long weekends can have their advantages, with families often congregating to spend time together and catch up. “I like the fact that my grandchildren come and visit, and that they're young enough to enjoy the novelty of the parade,” says 70-year-old R. Mahadev. “I feel like it's one of the things that brings me closer to them: to be able to share my memories of this day with them.”



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