I had published this post some years back when the silent National Anthem had first been released. Guaranteed to raise goose pimples and make eyes misty, it had sent me back in time to when singing the National Anthem had been a matter of pride and joy for us.
And then I visited a tosh south Delhi school the day they were celebrating Independence Day…
It was a well organised affair and the march past and cultural events were presentable. Yet I missed was the enthusiasm and fervor that used to mark the celebration in olden days. The moment of disillusion was the National Anthem – the music played and everyone stood up. Just a handful of students sang along, though some parents moved their lips. It was as if everyone was standing in the JLN stadium watching the Indian flag go up during the medal ceremony of the Asiad. It certainly didn’t stop the preening parents from taking shots of their wards performing on the stage.
I couldn’t help but remember the silent National Anthem, only that one had been so full of joy and enthusiasm as compared to the lackluster and desultory performance unfolding before me.
I am sure you would have watched this one – an actual silent one made for Big TV by Mudra. Sung in sign language by hearing and speech impaired children. After many long decades, my eyes had teared up when I heard the National Anthem. For those who have not watched it, here it is:
The memory of the Silent National Anthem also made me walk back in time…..
….back to when we were in school in Nagpur, and the National Flag and the National Anthem held a wealth of significance for us. We had a general assembly every day of the week which began with a prayer to goddess Saraswati and ended with the National Anthem, which we used to sing lustily.
Independence Day and Republic Day were celebrated on the designated days unlike today when they are celebrated several days in advance so that the schools may remain closed on the said days.
Handpicked student orators gave fiery speeches about the country and the freedom movement. And of course the National Anthem was sung with gusto by as we looked up with pride at the fluttering National Flag. Even the thought of defiling the sacred piece of cloth would have occurred to anyone, I am sure!
School in Mumbai had Physical Training (PT) as a full-fledged subject. We had theory classes and had to learn patriotic songs and facts and figures about current events and the freedom movement and its heroes. We were tested on the singing of the National Anthem in the exam. It had to be sung in precisely 52 seconds, not one second more, not one second less. The words had to be right as well.
And then there was Martyrs’ Day on 30th January, when we paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and the martyrs – when sirens blared at around 11 AM and everyone stood up to observe silence for two minutes during which time even traffic halted. We proudly made small tricolors and pinned them on our shirts on National Days; sold the flags to collect money for the welfare of the Armed Forces on Flag Day on the 7th of Dec….It was all a matter of pride in our country.
I am sometimes nonplussed to hear it being said that the present generation can’t be held to celebrating something that they can’t connect to. I can’t help wondering how it is that they happily celebrate July 4th with feasts and partying. Perhaps they remember some previous birth as Americans and so are able to connect better to its struggle for Independence? Of course, not to be left behind are those who feel closer to to the Americans than to Indians and so sneer at any celebration of the National Days.
That’s why I felt so overcome by emotion when I saw the Silent National Anthem. I think this version should be adopted with just the music sans the lyrics. After all, no one can then say that it goes against religious sentiments and ban it, can they?