August 29, 2016
15 August marks Indian Independence Day, the day that India was finally granted independence from British Rule. All across the country school children attend special programs where dance competitions are held and candy is given out. Adults will often have the day off work, or those who do have to work are often treated to a variety of sweets. Television programing takes on a very patriotic tone, and the colors of the Indian flag, officially deep saffron, white, and Indian green, can be seen everywhere. Children often put together cultural dances, telling the story of the nearly 200 year struggle for Indian independence. One of the dances often dramatically acts out the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which I wrote about in my last blog. Mahatma Gandhi plays a special role in many of the dances as well, as Indian Independence is seen as a triumph of non-violent demonstration and resistance.
St. Paul’s Academy hosted one such program, where the older students, grades seven and above, were gathered into the audience hall to watch eight cultural dances performed by the Junior and Senior classes. I was invited to be the chief guest at this celebration, and after the performances were finished, I was asked to address the assembled students and teachers, over 400 in total. Then I was invited to hand out the awards for the dance competition. I was deeply honored to have been a part of this year’s Independence Day celebrations. I learned a great deal from the performances, and I was given the unique privilege of participating in a truly cultural event. I am including photos from the various performances, which have been used with the permission of the Principal. I will also upload the text of my address in a separate blog post. The students at St. Paul’s are so unbelievably talented, and I hope you enjoy these photos as I enjoyed their performances.