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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Attari - Wagah Border Sunset Parade and Beating the Retreat (Lowering of Flags)


 A special cover on "Beating the Retreat Ceremony" at Attari-Wagah Border issued on 10 January 2012, commemorating Amritsar Philatelic Exhibition - AMPHIL- 2012

The Wagah border, locally known as the "Berlin wall of Asia”, is a border crossing on the India-Pakistan border where each evening there is a highly stylised “Retreat Ceremony” called 'lowering of the flags', which has been held uninterrupted since 1959.  At that time there is an energetic parade by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Pakistan Rangers.  At the first glance it may appear  aggressive and even hostile to the spectators  but in fact the parades are imitating the pride and anger. Troops of each country pick some of their tallest troops – would strut furiously towards the line separating them, their one-foot high fan shaped turbans gleaming like crests. Almost when it seemed they would collide, the guards – the Pakistan Rangers in grey salwar-kameez, the Indian BSFs in khaki – would veer off with salutes that look more attempted blows. Then the National flags would be lowered, and the immense metal gates slammed shut with a satisfying clunk. 

In 2001 both sides erected grandstands for the crowds that gather there to cheer their respective border guards and hurl abuse at those of the other country. As cries of “Allah-o-Akbar”, “Pakistan Zindabad” rose from the Wahga side, shouts of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, “ Vande Mataram” and “Jai hind” would erupt from Atari side.

With the better and improving relations between the neighbours the aggressive gestures during the ritual of “Flag Lowering” undertaken at sunset while closing the gates at the border has now been greatly toned down.
An Independence Day cachet showing crossed ‘India-Pakistan flags’ on the cover from the Indian F.P.O. 112, in Japan.
This is perhaps only the only postal cover where the flags of both India and Pakistan appear together with a cancellation 15 Aug 1947”. This cover was conceived by the late Brig. D.S.Virk, the  doyen of the Forces Philately in India.

 Special postmark from Tashkent, dated 10 January 1967, commemorating the first anniversary of the ‘Tashkent Declaration—1966’.
The Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan, having met at Tashkent [Uzbekistan SSR] and having discussed the existing relations between India and Pakistan hereby declare their firm resolve to restore normal and peaceful relations between their countries and to promote understanding and friendly relations between their peoples. They considered the attainment of these objectives of vital importance for the welfare of the 600 million people of India and Pakistan.
 Long live friendships between India and Pakistan.

6 comments:

  1. wonderful collection and powerful write up.

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  2. Respected Sekhar Chakrabarti ji, Thanks for the lively description of the retreat ceremony at wagah border.Even sweets are exchanged till date on independence day from both sides.We at Amritsar Philatelic Club highly appreciate your great achievements.Kindly correct the words " Vande Mataram & Bharat Mata ki Jai ". If any one wish to get this special cover for his collection(free of cost) may contact : rajan arora. Secretary, Amritsar philatelic club, 293 shivala bhaiyan, Amritsar. 143001. India.
    bhartitravels@ymail.com

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    1. Thank you Mr Rajan Arora and to all your members of Amritsar Philatelic Club.

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  3. Located in Amritsar, at Wagah Boarder you can witness the harmonious confluence of the two nations India and Pakistan. When it comes to accommodation in Amritsar, for budget travellers, there are plenty of budget hotels in Amritsar to choose from.

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  4. Thank you for the informative post and beautiful pictures. Wagah border is between India and Pakistan with the ceremony starting everyday 2 hrs before the sunset. It is important to know the Wagah border timings to plan the day accordingly.

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