Friday, 8 December 2006

Wagah Border Ceremony

A very different sort of attraction in India - and indeed the world - is the border closing ceremony at Wagah, the only land border crossing (at least for foreigners) between India and Pakistan.

What makes this ceremony so special is the highly ritualized aggression displayed by the soldiers of both sides - with huge crowds cheering them on as both sides try to drown out the other side by playing loud patriotic pro-Pakistani or pro-Hindustani songs! Here the soldiers have just begun pulling down their respective flags.

And here the flags are almost down. The soldiers try to coordinate their efforts so that no flag hangs lower than the others.

The whole thing runs in a very orderly fashion but yet there is a lot of bravado and aggression involved. Here a Pakistani soldier tries to intimidate his Indian colleagues with a loud stomp of his food. The Indians reciprocate of course.

A view of the whole spectacle seen from our seats. As you see this event attracts many thousand spectators - and it happens every single night. You can also see that we were sitting quite far from the actual action which is why I couldn't take better pictures. This is the best I could do.

A view of the women's section of the Indian spectator stands...

...and the Pakistan women's stands.

A true super fan of Pakistan. This guy seemed to act as sort of a cheerleader on the Pakistan side egging on the crowd to sing pro-Pakistani songs. Here however he takes time to signal over to the Indian crowd where his loyalties lie. The Indian side had a similar guy but he was just wearing ordinary clothes so I don't bother showing him here...

..but in stead I show this enthusiastic guy. It seems every day a few lucky members of the crowd get to carry an Indian flag up and down the little strip of road towards the border and wave the flag in front of the Pakistan crowd. This old guy was literally running 4 times up and down the road being loudly celebrated by the Indian spectators.

The Indian boys march in front of the closed gate.

One of the soldiers yells out orders to his subordinates.

India makes sure to tell any visitor who should be in doubt, that it is democratic (Ha ha, Pakistan is not) and very large (Ha ha, bigger than Pakistan). The languages here from top to bottom Hindi, Punjabi, English and Urdu.

And the state of Punjab also welcomes visitors. Note to the right the celebration of religious harmony with the combination of symbols of Sikhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

Indian soldiers get ready for a cold night of guarding the border.


oagersnap said...

Hej Esben,

Der er en fejl i din "About Me" tekst. "Wherever" staves kun med et e efter r'et.

vivien said...

great intensity of this daily event through your pics...

Ammu Aji said...

i visted this place with my family in october. good pics.