Before the start of the trip I was told about the Wagah Border ceremony and how we will be close enough to maybe go see it ourselves. So out of curiosity I looked up videos of the ceremony online, and what I found deeply confused me. I didn’t understand why these two countries that dislike each other so much are opening their border to have their soldiers stand-off against each other. The over exaggerated kicks and marching was all a bit strange to me, I didn’t get the point of it, let alone why so many went everyday to see it. But then about half way into the trip I got the chance to see it in person…. When we arrived to our parking spot, just seeing the crowd and the amount of “Go India” type apparel I could tell that this was going to be an experience of a life time. It wasn’t too hard to navigate the crowd walking in, especially since there were so many security checks (which made me feel more secure, knowing how seriously they take the security of this event). Something that I found odd was that foreigners had a different seating section from the rest and it was in the center (so we had a good view). I understand that having us separate is probably easiest, but I still felt like we were being privileged especially since they were all packed tightly together and we had space. Regardless of seating, the event was full of energy from the start, there was music playing on both sides and so much cheering.
To kick of the event they had young girls running flags in front of the crowd while everyone cheered. Then they started dancing and inviting others to join (only women though). I think almost every one of the women in our group went down and joined the dancing. It was honestly one of my favorite parts of the event. Being able to be a part of all the excitement and fun of the ceremony was an indescribably amazing experience. After a while the dancing ended and it was time for the military part to start. There was a yell to pump the crowd up and then two military women marched up to the border gate, the strength that they showed was so awesome. I loved the passion put into it and the pride of the crowd. Following the women were two men doing some very high kicks, which were very impressive. I am not exactly sure the order of events, but I do know that this was a very impressive military display. I thought it strange the first time I saw it, but at that time I didn’t realize how much this was like a show instead of a serious competition. You could see soldiers laughing and joking on the side and one was even holding a baby. Then being able to feel the pride that both sides felt for their country was unbelievable. I actually felt pride in India that I didn’t know I had. Also, watching them bring the two flags together was probably the moment it all clicked together for me. It was the most beautiful, peaceful thing I have ever seen. I don’t know what it was that made me feel this way, but I just fell into absolute awe at the sight. At that moment I understood the ceremony and why they do this every day… The Wagah Border ceremony is a beautiful, positive, peace bringing event.
For more information on the GCC India program, visit the CGIS website.