On the India-Pakistan border, between the cities of Attari (Pakistan) and Wagah (India), there is a fascinating daily border closing ceremony. Each side has public stadium seating where citizens and visitors can watch the spectacle. On the Indian side, viewers began to arrive more than an hour in advance to claim free seats.
|Erica eagerly anticipates the start of the ceremony|
When we arrived, the crowd was already in high spirits. A commentator was leading loud patriotic cheers, and vendors were selling Indian flags and hats. A crowd of teenagers and young adults were gathered in the central area, jumping up and down to the chants, taking turns waving a huge Indian flag, and dancing to the loud music, which included "Jai Ho" from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack.
|Love those hats!!|
Once the border guards came out, the crowd just roared. The small group marched in formation before gathering together at the center. From there, guards came forward alone or in pairs to high-step toward the gate with Pakistan. They were swinging their arms so high I worried they might dislocate their shoulders. They also occasionally paused to kick their leg up high enough to hit the tips of their fabulous red fan hats. Again I was concerned about bodily harm, this time in the form of pulled hammies.
|...and high kicks!|
I can only imagine the same activity was occurring on the Pakistani side. But I didn't have a clear view and, honestly, was too fascinated watching the Indian guards to care. The ceremony was designed to appeal directly to the nationalism and patriotism of each respective crowd, and from the cheering of the Indian spectators around me, it was doing its job.
|Carefully orchestrated flag lowering|
Eventually, the marching stopped and we turned our attention to the large Indian and Pakistani flags hoisted directly above the border gate. In unison, the flags were slowly lowered, maintaining the same height until they reached the bottom, were removed, and carefully folded. The guards marched out with the flags, the gate was closed, and another day of Indian-Pakistani rivalry ended.
|Jim and Emily cheer for India|
Enjoy this short video I took for a taste of the marching and high-stepping: