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Wagah border ceremony:Story behind attari border & Some interesting facts about this unique ceremony

Wagah border is one of the most unique border posts in the entire world. India and Pakistan both share a border of 3,323 Kms in length including the international border, working border and the line of control. The border between the two nations is very sensitive as it is considered as one of the most dangerous borders in the world. The rivalry between both the nations has been from the day when Pakistan was created. Wagah border is very unique as it symbolises rivalry and brotherhood at the same time. Wagah border ceremony is a  military ceremony with an energetic and aggressive display of patriotism by the two border forces of both the nations. 

Attari-Wagah border
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Where is the Wagah border?

Wagah is a border village lies on the famous Grand Trunk road 24 kms away from Lahore, Pakistan and 32 kms from Amritsar, India. Wagah is 600 metres from the Radcliffe line, the demarcation line that was drawn during the time of partition in 1947. Wagah is the border crossing post from Pakistan. Attari is the border crossing post from the Indian side which is named after the Attari village of India. Attari is 500 metres from the Radcliffe line towards the Indian side. During the time of partition, migrants from the Indian side used this border crossing to enter into Pakistan. 

Attari-Wagah border ceremony

Wagah border ceremony:

The border check post between the Attari village of India and Wagah village of Pakistan is a symbol of hostility, jingoism along with brotherhood between the two neighbouring countries. Every afternoon, a ceremony of two hours has been organised on the occasion of lowering the national lag since 1959. This military ceremony starts with a parade from both the nations and ends with lowering the national flags of both the countries in a synchronised way. The high kicks, thumping of boots and eye to eye display of aggression make this celebration very unique. This ceremony is one of its kind in the entire world which attracts tourists from all over the world. Nearly 25,000 of people from the Indian side as well as almost similar numbers of people from the Pakistani side witness this celebration everyday. 

The repeated chanting of “Hindustan Zindabad” and “Bharat Maata ki Jai” along with the Border Security Force personnel cheering up with a high powerful voice make the environment electrifying. The synchronised lowering of the flags involves firm handshakes between the personnels of Border Security Force of India and Pakistani Rangers. Large iron gates are closed as the lowering of flags of both the hostile nations are completed followed by folding of the flags which leads towards the end of this electrifying celebration.

The story behind Attari border( Who set up the Wagah border ?):

Nearly two months after the partition, a Sikh officer named Brigadier Mahindar Singh Chopra established this high-profile check post in Wagah. He was a key person in the partition process and was responsible for the Sylhet referendum. This unique border post came into existence on October 11th, 1947, just after two months of partition. 

Very few are aware of Brigadier Mahindar Singh Chopra. Pushpinder Singh Chopra, his son who inherited the personal diaries of Brigadier Mahindar Singh Chopra recently in an interview to The Hindu said about the situations that led to the establishment of this border check post. Initially, thousands of Punjabis moved to the east or to the west in an organised manner. But after 15th of August, 1947, the traffic increased to a very high number as lakhs of refugees from both the sides were using this Grand Trunk road to move from east to west or vice versa. This instability continued for two months even the Punjab Boundary force and Military Evacuation Organisation also had to do a lot of struggle to protect and evacuate millions of people. There was no marker or pillar to designate the exact spot on Grand Trunk Road which could divide both the nations. Brigadier Chopra, the commanding officer of the 123 infantry brigade in Amritsar that time set up a joint check post on the Grand Trunk road.

A few drums and stones were placed on the Grand Trunk Road marking the International border. Few tents were set up to house the troops on duty ( 1 Dogra regiment from the Indian Army and  Baluch from the Pakistani side). Two sentry boxes, painted in national colours of each of the countries were set up separated by a swing gate to regulate the traffic.

Brigadier Mahindar Singh Chopra at the joint check post  at Wagah
Credit: The Hindu

Some interesting facts about border celebration at Attari-Wagah border:

1. This is a symbol of rivalry, hostility and a symbol of brotherhood between the two neighbouring countries.

2. The border opens at 10 A.M and closes at 4 PM or 5 PM with the lowering of the national flag.

3. The ceremony starts with an electrifying parade from both the sides and ends with lowering of the flags of both the countries.

4. The aggressive display of patriotism along with high kicks and thumping of boots turns the border into a battleground.

5. The lifting up of legs to a very high level performed by the Border Security Force personnel is known as Goose Marching.

6. The soldiers are trained for this performance even they are paid extra to maintain their moustache to look aggressive.

7. This celebration also includes firm handshakes between the personnels of both the brother forces.

Conclusion: Wagah border ceremony is one of its kind in the entire world. It is a display of goodwill between the two rival neighbouring countries.

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