“Indian Flag Hoisting 2020 – History in the Making”
An Epic IAGB endeavor with a Covid-19 “twist”!!!
-By Jeyanthi Ghatraju
As many in the community know and recognize India Day, celebrating India’s Independence on August 15, 1947, as one the signature events of IAGB and look forward to gathering outdoors year after year!
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic brought in a different twist to our daily lives, leading us to adapt “new norms” of social distancing and come up with innovative ways of doing things. One of the most challenging ‘new norm’ is the restriction on the number of people gathering in one place at the same time. This has created a huge question mark in our minds on ways to celebrate various special milestone socio-cultural or historic occasions, traditionally celebrated in a grand way welcoming a huge public gathering.
Considering the current restriction, IAGB had to come up with an alternative plan to the traditional way of bringing a huge gathering in one centralized venue; So, IAGB developed a unique and decentralized plan to bring this celebration to many cities and towns in New England (35 in total!).
For the first time in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a few other neighboring states (perhaps anywhere outside India), IAGB undertook a grand unique endeavor by working with various towns/cities in New England to join IAGB to create history! The plan was to hoist/raise the Indian national flag at various town commons/city hall commemorating India’s 74th Independence Day on Friday August 14th or Saturday August 15th, 2020. This will not only help decentralize the celebration but also allow people to take pride in the fact that their towns/cities recognized and celebrated this historic event, while still being in the safe radar of their homes.
The IAGB team sprung into action soon after the decision was made and worked tirelessly for about 10 weeks, by contacting the officials of the various towns and cities (over 75), engaging in conversations on policies, attending meetings with the Board of Selectmen, researching flag codes and finally coming up with a Proclamation/Certificate of Recognition declaring August 15th as India Day. It was a historic event, never done anywhere else in the Commonwealth or neighboring states.
Keeping in mind the State’s mandated Covid-19 guidelines for social distancing and safety,, in morning of August 14th & 15th, a limited number of assigned dignitaries (including one or two town/city officials, local residents and IAGB representative, partnering organizations), across 35 gathered at the Town Common, Town Hall or City Hall and commemorated the historic Flag raising/hoisting event with full enthusiasm.
As planned, history was made when the Indian tricolor was raised/hoisted, the anthems sung and both the American and Indian flags flew high magnificently smothered by the gentle breeze! Several Senators, Board of Selectmen, Mayors, town officials read the proclamations/certificates of recognition declaring 15th August as India Day. Several speeches reflected the unparalleled affirmation, highlighting the synergy of both countries, spreading the story of India’s independence across New England and asserting their home country’s pride and honor in the United States.
Most events followed a similar format, with a few variations.
– Brief welcome by the Town/City official
– Sing the American Anthem and hoist/honor the American Flag
– Sing the Indian Anthem and hoist the Indian Flag
– Proclamation or Recognition read by the town/city official and thereby declare Aug. 15th as India Day
– Brief remarks on the ceremony by the town representative/s and IAGB rep. and/or a rep from one of the partner organizations.
The gathering concluded with the Vote of thanks by the IAGB EC members. It was a day of pride, honor and solemn feeling honoring the heritage of many Indians who have made the United States their homeland!
The events were live streamed on Facebook from IAGB’s page and many thousands could watch and rejoice in the touching moments!
A sample proclamation is attached here, for posterity.
One message that was clear and felt in the air is ascertained by this quote, “A thoughtful mind it sees a Nation’s flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, insignia, he reads chiefly only in the flag the Government, the truth, the principles, the history which belongs to the Nation it sets forth”. – Henry Ward Beecher