For many first generation immigrants and non-resident nationals ,their pride in their motherland remains undiminished. They bring their children for the flag hoisting ceremony at their embassies on occasions such as the Independence Day or Republic Day and proudly show them the flags and other things which make them-the parents and not the children- nostalgic. This happens to be true also for us in the embassies. In fact,our position in the embassies,as far as Indian-ness is concerned, is even more peculiar. As obvious(and official) representatives of our country we try to remain very Indian in foreign lands and fight losing battles with our children to keep them all Indian !
|Children and their parents on our Republic Day in Dublin|
The short ceremony in Indian embassies all over the world consists broadly of four parts:
the flag is unfurled by the ambassador after which the national anthem is sung and here is where we see parents casting anxious glances at their children (!)
|The ambassador hoists the flag|
Excerpts from the President’s address to the nation on the occasion is read out to the community by the ambassador .In the past, printed sheets of the entire text would be handed out to guests and, for some inexplicable reason, they would follow the speech on their sheets while the ambassador read it aloud. These days, in a move which is practical and eco-friendly, they are asked to see it on the embassy website.
|The President’s address being read out|
Then,to confirm the feeling of home, heart warming Indian snacks and tea are served. The last bit is the almost mandatory samosa or/and daal vada and gulab jamun-in some cases ,such as ours,entirely homemade. Thank God for our own housekeeper,Josephine and the wonderful embassy ladies !
|Indian snacks laid out,Indian style
In the evening or in the following three days is the National Day Reception where members of the Diplomatic Corps and guests from the host country are invited.
|Receiving guests at the reception|
On all state functions,including our National Day receptions, alcohol is not served. For a lot of guests- sad, but true ! The reason in our case,is not,as is often perceived,religious. It is to observe the principles of Gandhi and the Congress Party ,the founders of India’s independence.
But we do try to make up by good food ..
|The buffet with Indian food|
Here is the special thing-in a foreign country serve an Italian a piece of pizza, a French person a glass of French wine and an Indian a samosa and she might consider dying happily !