Thursday, February 8, 2024

Attire of Atari

 Attire of Atari

Hundreds of visitors coming to Atari-Wagah border of India Pakistan since the practice of lowering of the flags ceremony (beating retreat) started by the security forces of both the countries in 1959. It is hosted by BSF from India side since 1965. Atari is the village, the last railway station of India, part of Grant Trunk Road. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are then folded, and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again. 

As the years passes the 60 minutes ceremony in the evening is getting more and more colourful. The bright khakhi uniform with colourful headgear, shining shoes, energetic body language, raising of legs as high as possible and  rapid dance like monoeuvres moves, blustering parade and highly charged spectators make the event more colourful. Women personnel of Border Security Force also take part in the ceremonial retreat added the charm. The pared commands and slogans injects energy to the atmosphere. The atmosphere gets charged with the parade commands, high energy of the crowd, their slogan shouting and dance with the beats of the songs of patriotism makes the atmosphere energetic. 

The Indian side is high-tech with perfection in presentation. The soldiers and officers look fresh and attractive. The sound system is so powerful that the pared commands and slogans create goosebumps. Their gallantry moves with the sound of high pitch drum beats and commands make the crowd their fan. 

India is a country of 140 crore population, therefore, the Indian side of theatre is mostly houseful. Its growth is visible in the outlook of the visitors. But the other side of the fence though carry equally energetic force with perfected moves but is losing marks in their presentation. The choice of black uniform with black headgear is less energetic compared to Indian Khakhi in the evening hours. As they are 1/6th of India, the crowd to their side is less. They have kept two dholis to cheer up the crowd sitting at both the sides of the theatre. The two Dholis wearing black and red lungi, white kameez and black jacket  try their level best to match the momentum of the hour but can’t match with the drums of India. In the sounds of India’s slogans Hindustan Jindabad, Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vande Mataram, the sound of their slogan nara e takbir allah o akbar is somehow losing pitch. Indians dress pattern is changing fast and getting modern but majority of males and females to the other side still look traditional in Shalwar and Kameez. 

The gates open for few minutes in which the hearts open, two hands shaked but as soon as the ceremony gets over all closed. Though with a hope that they will open up again a day after. Will they get open permanently? How strange that rivalry, brotherhood and cooperation are sailing together at the borders of India and Pakistan. The aggressive aspect of the theatrics is the spice of the ceremony but a tone of rivalry too. Will the rivalry end? God knows. 

7 February 2024
Atari-Wagah border 


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