Arts & Culture

School Nostalgia: Republic Day Edition

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Remember those school days when you’d actually want to go to school on the 25th of January? Back when you took those special assemblies for granted,  thinking there were always more to come. Join us as we take a trip down memory lane revisiting some fond memories of school celebrations for Republic Day. 

My school was shaped a bit like a stadium. Only much, much smaller. The arena in the middle was called the ‘skating ring’( it was probably a rink but we happily butchered the name anyway), but really it was an all-purpose centre. Kids would play football there, we would have boring morning assemblies, play ice and water and much more. No one really paid much attention to what went on in that circle.

Except, for when it was Republic Day. Hoards of kids would cling like saran wrap to the cold, iron metal railing and loom over it to get a peek into the centre. Imagine being squeezed in between two eager toddlers. Now imagine three taller kids wearing stiff blazers pushing you forward. Yeah, that is what it was like trying to get a peek at what went on Republic Day. A teacher would have to yell at the younger ones and pull them back, just in case a tiny tot fell right in the midst of the ‘Jai Ho’ dance.

A common experience was begging the teachers to not teach you as it was Republic Day (technically the day before but you get the feeling), and sulk when she decided to teach you anyway, saying, “The celebration is after this period only, I won’t teach you then.” If you were one of the performing kids, you were lucky. You’d get to be dressed better than all the others in the same old uniform and you’d also get to skip class. The teacher in charge would smear a bright-red lipstick on all the kids and conduct a run-through so that you were prepared to rock the show.

All in all, it was a day worth remembering. Suddenly all the little kids were patriotic, dressed in oversized white kurtas and their mom’s colourful chunnis with cute tricolour face paint adorning their chubby cheeks, chanting ‘Vande Mataram’. 

A few of the middle school kids would arrive at school wearing tricolour wristbands, they were the cool ones. Then you had the ones who would bring flags. Some would bring plastic ones which would blow up in the wind making our flag look just the tiniest bit obese. Others got the paper ones, which ran the risk of getting easily torn. The third type was of the artistic kids who would make their flags with the Faber Castell pastel crayons.

I don’t remember much, but I remember Republic Day used to be great fun, especially up till 6th class. There would be pretty decorations all over the school. We would have fun costume competitions, essay writing competitions, poster making competitions, patriotic song and dance competitions and much more.”

– Shreya, a third-year JMC student

An essential part of the Republic Day celebrations was the march past. Students would spend hours on end marching to ‘left, right, left!’, dragging their feet to the dull drum of their P.T teacher, but show up with big smiles and an upright posture when marching to the tune in front of the principal. There would always be a chief guest of very high stature present at the event. You would have no clue as to who they were, but you’d look at them from afar and think of them as ‘bade log’. Even the student anchor introducing them at the function would barely understand why exactly they were so great but would say it was ‘an honour to be graced with their esteemed presence.’

No one really paid attention to that poor kid who had to talk about the importance of Republic day, ironically. It was the songs and dance performances that mainly stole the show. The dances would be on those same select patriotic songs like ‘ Mere Desh Ki Dharti’ and comparatively modern ones like ‘Desh Rangila’, making me feel like the Republic Day school experience is somehow frozen in time in these familiar melodies. There would also sometimes be a Jugalbandi dance piece wherein different classical dancers would entwine choreographies into a classical music piece, enrapturing the audience.

Now, this is embarrassing to admit, but for me, the highlight wasn’t even these dance performances. It was something much more blissful and sweet, literally. We would get an Rs. 5 Dairy Milk Chocolate at the end of it all, the perfect end to a perfect day.

Republic day brings back very fond memories of all of us standing across the circular walls of our school with the energetic dances and drama happening in the centre of the circular rink. I miss those Republic days where the hands were chilly and the wind was freezing, yet the national anthem at the end provided all the warmth we needed.”

– Nandini, a first-year LSR student, in regard to the experience

Quite frankly I miss it too. It was always a little comical when the principal had to struggle with unfurling the mighty flag before everyone burst into the national anthem. Those were simpler times when you didn’t question the country you lived in. All you saw was through saffron, white and green lenses.  Ignorance truly is bliss. Celebrations felt right, the thousand turmoils the country was facing didn’t echo within you. A childhood left behind means a certain innocence vanquished sadly. As doubts and worries about the country creep in this Republic Day, I hope you see the parade on the screen and think back to your school time celebrations, escaping the current reality, if only for a little while.

Featured Image Credits: Bharat Moms

Read also: What, When, Why and How of Republic Day Tableaux

The Republic Day parade debate: Is a parade really required to celebrate our republic?

Devanshi Panda

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