Celebrating the 75th anniversary of India's Independence, more than 100 community members, dignitaries and members of the India Canada Association of Sudbury came together at Tom Davies Square Monday.
August 15 is the annual celebration of the day 75 years ago, in 1947, that India was freed of British rule.
India Independence Day was marked in Sudbury with a flag-raising, singing of the national anthems of both India and Canada, as well as traditional foods such as samosas and gulab jamun, and more than anything, coming together.
The words “Jai Hind,” meaning ‘Long Live India’, echoed through the venue during the celebration.
The day also marks the anniversary of what is known as the Partition, when India and Pakistan were divided into two countries, which resulted in violence and death. It occured at midnight on August 14, so Pakistan honours independence on August 14 (you can read the story of celebrations in Sudbury here) and India on August 15.
British rule in India began in 1757 following the British victory at the Battle of Plassey and the English East India Company began exercising control over the country.
The East India Company ruled India for 100 years, until it was replaced by direct British rule (often referred to as the British raj) in the wake of the Indian Mutiny in 1857–58.
The Indian independence movement began during the First World War, and was led by Mohandas K. Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, who advocated for a peaceful and nonviolent end to British rule.
It is the “freedom fighters” from this time that many of the speakers at the event noted, including Niranjan Mishra, who told a story of the Ghandi’s Salt March.
Also known as the Salt Satyagraha, Dandi March and the Dandi Satyagraha, the march was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India.
The 24-day march occurred in 1930 as an act of resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly, but also, to encourage more people to follow Gandhi's example.
Gandhi started this march with 78 of his trusted volunteers. The march spanned 385 kilometres and many Indians joined them along the way.
When Gandhi broke the British Raj salt laws on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the salt laws by millions of Indians.
But as Mishra noted, it still took 17 years to attain the freedom they desired.
India Independence Day is a time to celebrate, but also to reflect on the ideals of India and Gandhi.
As Kshama Jain Shrawane told Sudbury.com, the 24 spokes in the Ashoka Chakra, which sits at the middle of the Indian flag between the green and orange, represent ideals such as peace, sacrifice, morality, love, forgiveness and service.
Shrawane and her son Prasuk, 10, spoke at the event and emphasized the need to remember the fight for freedom.
Shrawane, who came with her son and husband to Canada in 2013, now has a little girl, Prachi, who is “a Sudburian,” she said.
Shrawane told Sudbury.com India Independence Day offers the opportunity to reflect on the values of the Ashoka Chakra with her children and others.
“They're universal ideas, and each Independence Day, if we remember that, and throughout all other 364 days, then we'll all become good citizens of this world, not just India,” she said.
“I believe that children are our future. I believe that India is a nation we love, and Canada is a nation we love. I believe that we are world citizens, and I believe that all these celebrations mean that we are valuing and cherishing all these things that are on the flag.
“I believe that this will make us all good human beings and a good place to live on Earth.”
You can learn more about the India-Canada Association of Sudbury here.