Interesting Facts about the India-Pakistan Border Ritual | My India
Wagah border ceremony, India, Pakistan (Credit: Credit: Getty) Despite this tense relationship, both countries come together every sundown to a zealous, passionate ceremony that marks the nightly closing of the border. We came quite close to the Pakistan border during our camel safari in Rajasthan. India and Pakistan have a strained relationship but at the border differences. A Pakistani Ranger, right, and an Indian Border Security Force soldier shake mirrors the fraught relationship between the countries themselves, open throughout the day until they are shut at the end of the ceremony.
Once the sun starts to set, the music is turned off and the ceremony begins. An emcee leads the crowd through cheers as the Indian border guards begin their marches. No way, they are full on with high kicks and skips.
Interesting Facts about the India-Pakistan Border Ritual
Arms are a swinging, heads are turning, and the melodrama is in full force. It's like something out of Monty Python.
The crowd loves it. Guards take turns running down the street towards the border at top speed with perfect erect posture. Their white spats are a blur over their polished black boots and their high ornate rooster like hats are easy to spot.
The emcee silences the crowd.
Looking right into Pakistan from India Border For a brief moment the border gate opens and you can see right through to Pakistan. Soldiers from each side go through a series of strong poses, popping and locking their arms like a Russian dance before standing at attention.
The Guards Keep Watch! The crowd is wild and everyone wants to stand and cheer, but the guards keep a close eye and everyone must remain seated and orderly. It goes on for 45 minutes. A stone-faced guard stepped up to the microphone, inhaled deeply and then let out a long bellowing yell that was echoed from the other side.India - Pakistan Soldiers Fist Fight During Beating Retreat Ceremony
He was in direct competition with his Pakistani counterpart. Two men from two different countries, less than m apart, were participating in a good old-fashioned scream-off. Once our guard was finished with his battle call the Pakistani guard outlasted him by mere secondshe briskly marched down the lane towards Pakistan with five of his barrel-chested companions following suit.
They strutted to the centre of the road and began a series of synchronised stomps and kicks, their extravagantly plumed headgear and severe expressions miraculously never wavering. Every now and then, a guard would send a menacing glare towards the Pakistan border as if to intimidate his rivals. View image of The prowess of Indian border guards Credit: Tawny Clark At this point, the patriotism in the crowd was palpable; each section was roaring with cheers and applause.
The border guard that had led the battle call took off down the road, completing a series of stomps and high kicks at the gate — at one point almost kneeing himself in the nose. His Pakistani counterpart was completing his own staccato dance of martial arts manoeuvres. They ended at the same time, concluding with a long-held death stare aimed towards the other.
This machismo display continued for another 20 minutes, with each of the six competing guards having his time to shine. I found myself relishing in the revelry, clapping to the music and gasping when a guard accomplished a particularly high kick.
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The intense performers continued their routines with all the pizazz one would expect from Michael Jackson wannabes, cheered on by the enthusiastic crowd. Two uniformed Indian soldiers in sunglasses and rifles slung across their chests suddenly appeared at the far end of the road.
They twirled their sculpted mustaches and preened for a moment with their hands on their hips, then goose-stepped forward before coming to an abrupt stop before the open gate. The crowds went crazy. A dozen Indian soldiers were next, marching so forcefully that scarlet fantails crowning their heads seemed like they would tumble to the ground, followed by two high-stepping female soldiers — an unsubtle dig at the gender segregation on the other side.
It went on like this for 20 minutes, each set of Indian soldiers seemingly taller and more imposing than the last.
Wagah-Attari border ceremony
Each marched back to his side as the gates swung shut with a clang — not to be reopened until the morning. The closing of the gates, officially known as "Beating Retreat," is almost entirely symbolic, modeled on a British military ceremony that calls patrolling units back to their bases. The spectacle has taken place since with growing crowds and few interruptions.