In 2022, India marks 75 years of independence. 15 August is Independence Day in India. This is a significant milestone for the country, marking when British rule ended.
Keep reading our Day Translations blog to learn more about how India celebrates their independence and the history behind this day.
The History of Independence Day in India
On August 15, 1947, India was finally free from 200 years of British Rule. A free and independent India was formed on that day. The Indian flag was hoisted for the first time by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru above the Lahori Gate in Red Fort, Delhi.
India’s journey to becoming an independent nation dates as far back as 1617, when the British East India Company first came to facilitate trade between Mughal (India) and England. After being in the country for some time, the traders slowly began to take control of India. It was easy for them to do this because India was divided into sub-territories with multiple local leaders at the time.
To gain control, the British took the “divide and rule” approach, which resulted in the local leaders, also known as Maharajas, against each other. Sometime around the 1850’s Britain gained almost full control of the territory.
For decades, Indians fought many wars against British rule, all to no avail until 1857. The revolt of 1857, also known as the Indian Mutiny, is the point in history when real freedom fights began. Soldiers right across the country revolted against British commanders. This resulted in England taking control away from the British East India company and replacing it with direct rule from the crown.
Over time, other protests took place under British rule, including the nonviolent civil disobedience resistance led by Gandhi. This took place during the first World War and was known as the start of India’s Independence Movement.
India Gains Independence
India’s Independence Bill was introduced into Britain’s House of Commons on July 4, 1947. Ths bill was passed within 2 weeks of its introduction, which saw the end of British Rule on August 15, 1947. On this day, legislative sovereignty was passed to the Indian Constituent Assembly. They retained King George VI as the head of state until January 1950, when they made the transition to being a republic, and the Indian Constitution was fully adopted. January 26 is celebrated as Republic Day in India.
An interesting fact to take note of is that India’s independence also coincided with the division of British India into the dominions of India and Pakistan. As a result of this, Pakistan celebrates its independence on August 14, while India celebrates their independence the very next day on the 15th.
Celebrations Surrounding Independence Day in India
Independence Day Celebrations usually kick off with the hoisting of the national flag by the Prime Minister. While this is taking place, there is also a 21-gun salute, after which a moving rendition of India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ takes place. Following this is an address by the Prime Minister, who uses the opportunity to remind everyone of the significance of Independence day and the events that took place leading up to independence.
Certainly, it wouldn’t be an independence day celebration without a parade. Following the earlier events are patriotic parades and pageants centered around honoring freedom fighters. There is also a march-past by the armed forces along with various performances by children representing their schools. Of course, these celebrations are tied to one place, but instead, these types of celebrations take place all over the country.
India’s northern and central cities have kite flying festivals on Independence day. It is part of their tradition and one of the day’s main festivities. This festival symbolizes the spirit of freedom and joy and dates back to 1927 when Indian revolutionaries flew kites displaying the words ‘Go back Simon’ on them as a sign of protest against the British.
Independence Day is a national holiday in India, and schools are closed for the day. Leading up to the day, however, most schools fly the colors of the national flag, decorate their classrooms, and do plays reenacting historical events leading up to independence day.
Fun Facts About Independence Day in India
- India’s national anthem was originally called ‘Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata’. It was composed in 1911 by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. However, in 1950, the song was renamed ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and declared India’s national anthem.
- Before the current design of the India flag, there were 2 other adaptations before it. The flag currently being used was adopted in 1947. It was hoisted for the first time on Independence day of that same year.
The significance of India’s Independence serves as a reminder of the many freedom fighters who sacrificed for the country. It is a day full of celebrations and time spent with family and friends.
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