Wagah Border Beating Retreat ceremony, a symbol of India-Pakistan rivalry
Sevil Erkuş - LAHORE
The longest line of soldiers of both sides of Pakistan and India are at the Wagah border crossing demonstrating power to each other with fast-paced marches and high kicks at both ends of the border to impress and scare the other side.
Hundreds of people cheer with cheerleaders and sing their national songs in a show of pride. They also stage competitions in which they compete to demonstrate which voice of the party will be higher. The soldiers’ dance-like power show lasts for about an hour and ends with the flag down and the handshake of two soldiers.
The Wagah “Reduction of the Flags” ceremony has been a daily military event of Indian and Pakistani rangers since 1947, where rivalry between the two countries becomes a demonstration event that continues even during wartime.
The flag-raising and landing ceremony was a routine border activity before the 1970s. But later it was transformed into a synchronized demonstration by the soldiers and turned into an event that hosted thousands of tourists every year.
We watch the ceremony, which lasted about an hour, on the Pakistani side among the cheers of hundreds of Pakistanis. Behind the border crossing are the Indians and their soldiers in the Indian bleachers. The ceremony begins with the demonstrations of veterans without a foot, followed by a commander with a sword walking to the door. After the march of the female soldiers, the soldiers continue to march to the door with black clothes and voices of metal anchored under their posts.
The soldiers show each other their strengths by showing their biceps and fists. Then the synchronized flag-raising ceremony takes place.
The ceremony ends with two soldiers shaking hands at the zero point of the border.
The ceremony held every day during the sunset. The Wagah gate re-opens the next morning at 9 a.m. with the flag raising.
Although the show of power turns into a visual show, it is also the border crossing symbolizing peace between the two countries. This is the border gate where Abhinandan Varthaman, the pilot of the Indian warplane that was shot down by Pakistan, was handed over to the Indian authorities during the recent military tension between Pakistan and India.