Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why Travel Tuesday: India-Pakistan Wagah Border Ceremony

(Every Tuesday, I will be featuring a photograph from a place I have gone to, a photograph which I believe will inspire others to go out and see the world for themselves. For this week, Why Travel Tuesday features the bizarre India-Pakistan Wagah Border Ceremony.)

India-Pakistan Border Closing Ceremony, Wagah, India

Now here's a real treat for borderholics. When in the holy city of Amritsar, India, one of the more touristy things to do is to head to the India-Pakistan border in the village of Wagah at sundown. Wagah, split right in the middle between the two countries, is the only road border crossing between the rival countries. And every sundown, the village gets packed with people on both sides as there takes place a bizarre military ceremony between the India Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers.

Both sides prepare for the closing of the the border gates and lower their flags at exactly the same time, while people, in a show of national pride, chant and shout in support of their respective countries. The most bizarre thing about it is that the soldiers who actually perform in the ceremony intentionally stomp their feet, exaggeratedly raise their arms and puff up their chests, as if proving to their rivals that their side is the stronger one. It's all friendly pomp and pageantry, of course. They shake hands at the end of it all. The ironic thing about though it is that north of this area, in the hotly contested region of Kashmir, things are not so friendly. All the same, it is quite a spectacle to watch.

Are there any other bizarre military ceremonies or bizarre border situations in the world that you know of? Do share!

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