In observance of India’s Independence Day on Aug. 15, WKU Indian students, faculty and staff assembled at the office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).
On this day, it is traditional across India to raise the national flag followed by a day of celebrations. “August 15th commemorates India’s independence from British rule in 1947,” said Dewaker Dhandapani, Office Associate at ISSS.
Flower petals were wrapped in the Indian flag, the flag was raised and the petals were released as the flag reached the top of the pole. As petals rained down, students and faculty sang India’s national anthem.
ISSS Director Tarek Elshayeb welcomed the group to the event at WKU’s Sofia-Downing International Center, and Dr. Vijay Golla, WKU Associate Professor of Public Health, spoke about the significance of national freedom.
India achieved independence following a movement noted for largely peaceful nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress.
“The flagship event takes place in New Delhi where the Prime Minister hoists the national flag at the Red Fort, followed by a nationally broadcast speech,” said Dr. Golla. “On this day, it is important to reflect on the value of freedom and independent governance. I think generations to come are getting further away from the actual time and date of achieving independence. It is important to remember the independence movement and the struggle for democracy, in order for us to truly value our freedom.”
“In the morning in all of the schools, offices, and national buildings, we do a flag-raising,” said Meghana Gaharwar, a WKU student from Nagpur, India. “In India, we have a two or three-hour program, then we celebrate with dancing, singing of national songs and a parade. National awards and prizes are given away and basic necessities are distributed to the needy and poor.”
“ISSS has been honored to participate in this event for several years. Our Indian student community is very strong and it is vital for them, being so far from their homeland, to be able to raise their flag and pay tribute to their country’s independence,” said Andrea Ford, ISSS advisor. “Many of our new Indian students arriving for the fall semester also have the chance to visit our office and establish a connection with each other.”
“It is a wonderful opportunity for the students to celebrate India’s independence while studying in the United States, which also shares the values of independence and democratic society, and we want to thank ISSS for hosting this celebration and serving as home away from home for international students,” added Dr. Golla.
Contact: Diana Howard, (270) 745-4857.