The nation celebrated yet another Republic Day on the 26th instant with the usual pomp and pageantry at the national capital and state capitals .On this year's Republic Day I was on a long drive in a car and nowhere I could see any sign of celebration or active involvement of common people in the celebrations. I could not even see many national flags flying on buildings, shops,etc. No loudspeaker was heard blaring out patriotic songs. It looked as if it was just another day.A holiday!
While travelling nostalgic memories about the Independent Days and Republic Days started filling my mind.As students in our school and college days we used to look forward to these important days of the nation and preparations for the celebrations used to start well in advance. The buildings used to get a face lift, often, with a new coat of paint and white wash and decorated with locally available tender coconut palm leaves and coconut bunches. Banana plants with big raw banana bunches used to adorn the entrances. Shops and establishments and houses also actively participated with decorations and hoisted national flags. Streets and surroundings were swept and cleaned.In the schools and colleges there used to be parades by ACC and NCC cadets, flag hoisting ceremonies, march pasts, singing of the National Anthem, patriotic speeches by eminent personalities, distribution of sweets, sports competitions and variety entertainments. We all wore our best clothes, mostly white, with the national flag smartly pinned on them!! Well, it was celebration in letter and spirit.
On reaching back home I wanted to hear some of the old records containing patriotic songs of those days.The famous marching song of Indian National Army(now the quick march song of the Indian Army),viz., "Kadam badaye ja"(a song composed by Ram Singh Thakur and released in 1942), which used to be heard everywhere in those days, was the one I wanted to hear first. But alas!The 78 rpm record, which was with me all these years,was found missing from my shelf ! But the record of film 'Saheed' containing the equally famous song,viz., Watan ke raah mein watan ki naujawan" sung by Muhammed Rafi, Khan Mastan and chorus and composed by Ghulam Hyder, was there. So also the record of film 'Jagriti" (Music by Hemant Kumar)containing the song ' Hum Laye hai Toofan se' sung by Rafi was there. The record has also the haunting song "Sabarmati ke sant toone kar diya kamal"sung by Asha Bhosle . I listened to these songs to my heart's content.I also took out the record of the National Anthem released by the All India Radio with the AIR orchestra and choral group playing the song. I also listened to the mother of all patriotic songs,viz. 'Aye Mere Watan ke logo'(1963)penned by poet Pradeep, composed by C. Ramachandra and sung by none other than Lata Mangeshkar accompanied by Cine Musicians' Orchestra.The royalties from the sale of this record was for the benefit of the soldiers who lost their lives on the Northern borders.It is part of history that Jawaharlal Nehru admitted that the song brought tears in his eyes!
Yet another record I heard that day was the 78 rpm record brought out by Columbia titled " Gandhi-His Spiritual Message" in Gandhi's own voice and with his signature printed on it, a proud possession in my collection.
Tail piece:-(Overheard the other day) Oh! Republic day! What is the special blockbuster film in .....channel?
P.S. Please click on the photos to see them clearly.