Writing the previous post made me sit back and think about what made me develop such strong feelings for the national flag, national anthem, etc. I can never tolerate seeing people sitting and listening to National Anthem. Mind you, I am not saying that those people are not patriotic or anything like that. It’s just that I can never sit when I listen to National Anthem. That’s all.
During my training days at work, one forward that was doing the rounds was a baby singing the National Anthem. Many were listening to it on speakers sitting comfortably on their chairs. When I asked those sitting near me to stand up while listening to the Anthem, they didn’t do it. They laughed saying this was just a baby singing it and they were lost in the beauty of the kuzhandhayin mazhalai. I asked them to at least listen to it on their headphones and when that too didn’t happen, besides, how many people can I go and tell in a class of 100+, I left the classroom. I am once again clarifying myself here that I am not saying that what those people did was wrong. It is of course, the individual’s wish to do what they want to. I left the place since what happened there was something that I wouldn’t be doing.
These days, all the TV channels keep playing the National Anthem very often during the days preceding the Independence Day or Republic Day and I immediately stand up when I hear the National Anthem. Or I just change the channel.
I remember buying A.R.Rahman’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ album only in 2002 or 2003 even though it was released earlier than that. But I am yet to listen to the full album till today! Till now, whenever I have listened to it, I have listened to only one or two versions at a time since for one, I obviously wouldn’t want to stand continuously during the entire duration of the album and besides, I don’t consider it to be just a soulful piece of music like the other songs that I listen to for time pass or relaxation or pleasure or whatever. And that was the reason why I didn’t even buy the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ DVD that was released in 2007.
At that time, I was wondering about why I was alone making a big deal out of it when there are many who are able to listen to the Anthem while sitting. That’s when I read Baradwaj Rangan’s post on it. Quoting from his post,
“Think of the anthem not as an intimidating expression of patriotism so much as an intimate outpouring of passion. (And what is patriotism if not some form of passion?) Think of it as a love song to a beloved nation, a devotional chant to a sacred entity, even a musical meditation on one’s motherland – and you’ll find that sitting down may be completely appropriate, perhaps even necessary to deal with the emotions that wash over you when DK Pattammal, in that singularly brassy timbre that has coloured so many patriotic songs in the past, launches into her clarion call of Jaya he, Jaya he, Jaye he.”
Wow! When I read his post, I thought that there couldn’t have been a better way of looking at the National Anthem than what he had written! And after that, I did try to listen to the Anthem while sitting. But, I wasn’t able to. Why was I not able to?
So here I am back in an attempt to figure out the answer to the question that I was pondering about in this beginning of this post. What was it that started making me feel so strongly about the National Flag & National Anthem? Of course, we were all taught in school that we should stand in attention while singing/listening to the National Anthem and that’s where it would have obviously started.
Yet, looking back, I think I would attribute it all to the effect that reading about the freedom struggle and the great leaders and freedom fighters who even lost their lives while trying to get back our lost Independence, had on me during my school days. Though the visual medium was there too and some movies and serials like ‘Yug’ did leave an impression on me, still it didn’t influence as much as the writings did during my school days.
But my reading wasn’t restricted to what I read in the History books at school alone. Anybody who wrote the Hindi Prachar Sabha exams will remember that there were lots of prose and poetry related to our freedom struggle that we had to study for those exams. I remember how much the struggles and sufferings that each of the freedom fighters underwent used to affect me. Reading about the thousands of innocent lives that were lost in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre or about Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad, Netaji, etc. or about ‘koDi kaattha’ Kumaran who didn’t lose his grip on the National flag even when he was being beaten to death, etc., etc. – all these affected me so much. The respect which the freedom fighters gave to the National Flag and the National Anthem wasn’t lost on me either. I guess over a period of time, I had subconsciously developed such strong feelings about our national anthem and national flag.
Today, the feeling is so deep-rooted in my mind that I cannot imagine myself not involuntarily standing up every time I listen to the national anthem or not giving the national flag the respect that I feel it deserves!