Today marks India’s 62nd Republic day- A day of remembrance when Indian constitution came into force. And it also marks the first public holiday of the year for Indians.
This is my second year away from India. As I kid I remember Republic Day as being a formal event. First there was the special flag-hoisting ceremony in school, then the whole school belting out the national anthem, then there was a long speech by our principal and then finally the part we’d all been waiting for – the distribution of sweets.. usually a laddoo, a samosa, and a chocolate as well as a little paper flag that we were expected to pin on our uniforms.
Every year, I watched the live events on Doordarshan: the presidential speech and the colourful parade that lasted for about one and a half hours. The rest of the day would be spent with family and friends watching movies, or with a lunch or dinner meet.
Last year was my first Republic Day away from home. I had just arrived in the Netherlands and I was still busy settling down, setting up a house, learning to negotiate the icy roads to my Dutch classes, and I wanted to do something to mark the day.
I made a tricolor salad, while A R Rahman’s Vande Materam played in the background; carrots for the saffron, raddish for white and cucumber for the green in the form of the Indian flag. The spinning wheel in the centre was beyond my creative abilities.
I knew it was kind of corny, but it’s funny how you get more patriotic when you’re away from your country.