theindialog

August 14, 2009

Wagah: The Indo-Pak Border

Filed under: Leisure,Politics,Punjab — loggers @ 3:00 am

We drove past a special security barricade at the Wagah border to enter a reserved seating zone, excited to witness the ‘Changing of the Guards’ ceremony.

loggers at wagah

loggers at wagah

It was a stadium setting where Indian stands were full (2,000+ spectators) 2 hours before the event, and Pakistani fans trickled in gradually. On the Indian side, women were given flags and were allowed to run ~20 meters up to the gate and back (foreign women got the loudest cheers). The countries created a competitive atmosphere by playing patriotic pop songs on their loudspeakers, and again, only the Indian women were permitted to dance freely to the tunes. On the Pakistani side, the men were doing the dancing. What transpires before the ceremony begins is a manifestation of Bharat Mata, the belief that India is a feminine entity.

women empowerment at the border

women empowerment at the border

Another aspect of Indian culture that is carried up to the border is accommodation for VIPs. Two rangers were deployed to monitor the reserved seating zone, and these rangers would not allow VIPs to participate in the ceremony because, according to a BSF jawaan, “Dehatis” (or villagers) would be given priority.

jawaans assemble before their marches

jawaans assemble before their marches

The ceremony began at 6:30pm, when 5 jawaans lined up to perform their individual marches. It was a powerful display of intimidation, where rangers pumped up the crowd with energetic kicks and stomps. Fans on both sides chanted patriotic slogans as the guards marched up to the border and stared each other down with their arms flared. Eventually, the gates were violently thrown open and we were able to gaze onto Pakistani soil. The guards on the other side were taller and clad in black uniforms with red waistbands (in our opinion they were more daunting than the Indian jawaans).

Indian jawaan strikes an intimidating pose

Indian jawaan strikes an intimidating pose

Clearly, Wagah embodies the political tension between India and Pakistan, and thereby makes for an exhilarating experience for tourists. It is essentially where 62 years of cross-border conflict meets T20 cricket. It would be nice to see both sides finding a way to popularize a quest for peace in the region for a change. After the stare-down between opposing guards, a friendly handshake may do the trick…or perhaps a hug?

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3 Comments »

  1. Great site…keep up the good work.

    Comment by Bill Bartmann — September 3, 2009 @ 12:41 am | Reply

  2. Cool site, love the info.

    Comment by Bill Bartmann — September 4, 2009 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

  3. […] to the palpable tension noticed at the Indo-Pak border at Wagah, the China border effused a sense of calm. However, this could well be deceiving in light of the […]

    Pingback by Bumla Border « theindialog — September 30, 2009 @ 1:40 am | Reply


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