Saturday, August 14, 2010
August 1947 the British partitioned the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan and left. Pakistan celebrates its independence on August 14 and India on August 15.This morning, I celebrated the Indian Independence Day on Pakistani Independence Day. Panorama India, a Toronto-based cultural organisation, and the Consulate General of India in Toronto, organised the India Day celebration and grand parade at Dundas Square.
I learnt the Parade is five-years-old, and it aims eventually to rival the Caribana Parade. At present, it’s modest and utterly charming, offering vignettes of the Indian microcosm.
There were floats from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa, and some from the many sponsors of the event.
Rajasthan had the smallest float and RANA had adopted the Mirabai theme. Mirabai is the 16th century woman poet-saint and feminist who epitomises the Bhakti-Sufi tradition of sub-continental syncretism.
The morning trip to Dundas Square (with Che rather reluctantly accompanying me) was worth the effort because the Rajasthan float played Lata Mangeskar’s Mira bhajaans.
Later, I read the Times of India’s website and its special coverage on India’s Independence Day.
As many know, Mahatma Gandhi stayed away from the Independence Day celebrations, preferring to douse the flames of communal riots in Calcutta.
Here’s a gem from that report:
Journalist Horace Alexander narrated an incident that occurred in that surcharged season (mid-1947). One day when Gandhi was praying in a village, a Muslim caught him by the throat. Gandhi almost collapsed. But even as he fell down, he recited some lines from the Quran.
On hearing them, the Muslim said, “I am sorry. I am prepared to protect you. Give me any work. Tell me what should I do?”
Gandhi replied, “Do only one thing. When you go back home, do not tell anyone what you tried to do to me. Otherwise there will be Hindu-Muslim riots.
Forget me and forgive yourself.”