(15.8.17): August 15, 1947 marked independence of India from British rule. This year was the 71st celebration of the holiday, and I am so happy I was a part of it. My celebrations started on Friday the 11th of August in school. During the zero period, I helped in making a design on the floor outside our classroom. Since phones are not allowed in school, I did not manage to get any pictures. Pictures were taken (as always) but I never know where they end up haha! Our design was of the Earth with a banner in the colors of the Indian Flag with a dove in the center of it all. There was a quote to go along with it: “let freedom never perish in your hands”. The design was made by first marking the area out with chalk and then painting the ocean sections of the Earth blue. The land sections were filled in with a tan colored sand. When the paint dried, blue paper was torn into small pieces and used to fill in the sections. For the white section of the banner, we also used this sand. The green section was done with green sand and the orange section was done with a colored powder similar (from what I have heard) to what they use during Holi. The dove was placed on top in the center of the design and finally flowers and flower petals outlined the entire thing. It looked really nice and lasted the entire day. It was an interesting experience for me because Independence Day in the US happens outside of the school year so there are never any celebrations done with members of the same class.
The day before independence day was also really nice and laid back. My host family was originally planning to take me to Iskcon Temple but plans fell through because my host siblings had to study. Hopefully I will get the chance to go in the future. Not going allowed me to see some local preparations in my host community though which was really nice. In India, the government sponsors some decorations for the holiday. Along the streets there were banners hung of orange, white and green. Around the corner from my house there was a stage set up but I did not get a chance to see whatever performance was done that evening. When I was biking back home from Monisha’s tution class, the road was blocked off even to me as a cycler. I apparently know the neighborhood better after living here one month than Monisha so I quickly found the long way back home.
All in all, I really did not do much to celebrate independence day. I was a little disappointed that I did not get to do much for it but spending time with family was still really nice and I enjoyed the 4 day weekend. On Independence Day, my host family actually celebrated Janmashtami. In the morning they asked me if I wanted to practice fasting which basically meant I would not be able to eat or drink until midnight in honor of the birth of Lord Krishna. I agreed because it would be the only year I really celebrate the holiday and (I thought) it would be easy to fast among a family who is also fasting. Apparently, the only other person in my family who ended up fasting was Monisha and even she cheated by having some water haha. I fasted the entire day, only allowing myself to eat the foods of the fast which was a fried potato dish and a couple glasses of Limeca which is a soda similar to Sprite in the US. Still not really sure why Limeca was allowed but not water but I am not complaining! We did not do too much on 15 August because it would be bad to dehydrate myself by working out (not that I do that anyway). We watched a movie on TV and then Monisha and I bought 2 cakes (eggless of course!). I went with Monisha to her tutions class again and when we came back my bua came over to celebrate with us. At about 8pm I got somewhat confused as the cakes were cut and some other sweet dishes were served. I did not expect the non-fasting members to go ahead with eating before the fast ended for Monisha and I, but they did! It was really funny to hear my host dad try to tempt us by singing “this cake is really yummy, I’m eating this cake…”. I love my host dad. After they finished eating, I took a shower and took a nap so that I could wake up at midnight to eat without being too tired to wake up again at 5:30am for school. I am not sure what happened but no one woke me up to eat at midnight so I ended up having cake for breakfast! There were two types of cakes, butterscotch and some jam filled one. They were both delicious!
This 4 day weekend was a memorable time for me even if it was not what I expected it to be. I loved spending time with friends and family and creating memories that will last me a lifetime. It is hard for me to comprehend that every Indian holiday I spend over here will be my first and last experience of it in India (until I find a time to make visits). I am trying to make the most out of my experience and cannot wait until the next major holiday...Diwali!
Hi! My name is Anna McKane. I am 16 years old and have had a pretty ordinary life up to this point. I believe this experience will change me for the better and I will try everything I can while I am abroad.