Patriotism. A word which seems to pop up in every desi’s dictionary twice a year, and one of those days seems to be the twenty sixth of January. Cynicism aside, we’ve learned this word since we were tiny, painting our faces bright orange and dark green. But do we know what it really means?
A quick Google search says that it is “the quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one’s country.” I mean, it isn’t wrong, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Every twenty-sixth of January we wake up, hopefully at around eight, glad it’s a holiday. Only a few minutes later do we fully realize why. It’s because it is our nation’s Republic Day. We tune in to watch the parade, and we feel the unusual swelling of our heart, which is pumping out tricoloured blood.
If you’re lucky enough to watch it in real life, you’ll finding yourself cheering and clapping till your hands are red in the cold Delhi air. You’ll find yourself leaping to the front as our proud soldiers march on, in awe of the quiet sense of honour which rests on their lapels. Your smile will stretch wide as you watch the brilliant, exuberant floats complete with dancers carrying the full weight of our culture on their anklets. Sounds of amazement and wonder will echo around you as the jets perform heart swooping stunts, claiming the sky as their own. And you might just find tears in your eyes as you sing our national anthem, with the voices of thousands and millions of voices from times past emblazoned on it.
For the rest of us at home, we might go about our day as usual. But there would be a shift in our demeanour, in our bearings. Maybe our smile will become a little warmer, our gait taller. Maybe we would greet everyone we know, or buy a paper flag from a street vendor. Either way, we will consciously or unconsciously move a little closer, live at the same rhythm.
Maybe that’s what patriotism means to us.
This blog was written by Khushi Vora, one of our youngest volunteers who works with Toybank — The Opentree Foundation. Her eloquent writing is not indicative of her age and we’re so grateful to her for this blogpost.