Attari–Wagah border ceremony

(Redirected from Wagah border ceremony)

The lowering of the flags ceremony at the AttariWagah border is a daily ceremony that the security forces of India (Border Security Force) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959.[2] The drill is characterized by elaborate and rapid dance-like manoeuvres and raising legs as high as possible, which have been described as "colourful".[2] It is both a symbol of the two countries’ rivalry, and a display of brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.

Attari–Wagah border ceremony
Wagah border Pakistan side
The ceremony takes place on the border between Attari, India and Wagah, Pakistan but technically it is on Wagah land as Attari village ends 3km before the Border although it is the last Railway Station of India. [1]
GenreMilitary display
DatesEvery day
Location(s)India-Pakistan border
Coordinates31°36′17″N 74°34′23″E / 31.60464°N 74.57310°E / 31.60464; 74.57310
Years activeSince 1959 (64 years ago) (1959)
FoundedBorder Security Force and Pakistan Rangers

Similar parades are organised at the Mahavir/Sadqi border near Fazilka, and the Hussainiwala/Ganda Singh Wala border near Firozpur.

Overview edit

The Attari–Wagah border ceremony at the border crossing
Marching by Indian Border Security Force soldiers at the Attari border crossing
Women personnel of Border Security Force taking part in the ceremonial retreat at the India–Pakistan border at the Attari border crossing, 2010.
Pakistani Rangers at the Wagah border crossing
Indian crowd watching the ceremony at Attari border
Pakistani crowd watching the ceremony at Wagah border

This ceremony takes place at the Attari–Wagah border, which is part of the Grand Trunk Road. Prior to the opening of the Aman Setu in Kashmir in 1999, it was the only road link between these two countries. It is called a Beating Retreat border ceremony on the international level.

The ceremony starts every evening immediately before sunset with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both sides, and ends with the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations' flags.[3] One infantryman stands at attention on each side of the gate. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are then folded, and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again. The spectacle of the ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border, as well as international tourists.[3] In October 2010, Major General Yaqub Ali Khan of the Pakistan Rangers decided that the aggressive aspect of the ceremonial theatrics should be toned down. The soldiers of this ceremony are specially appointed and trained for this auspicious ceremony. They also have a beard and moustache policy for which they are paid additionally.[citation needed]

Pakistani and Indian soldiers shaking hands

2014 suicide attack edit

On 2 November 2014, approximately 60 people were killed and at least 110 people were injured in a suicide attack on the Pakistan side of Attari–Wagah border. An 18 to 20-year-old attacker detonated a 25 kg (55 lb) explosive in his vest 600 metres (2,000 ft) from the crossing point in the evening right after the Attari–Wagah border ceremony ended.[4][5]

2016 tensions edit

After the India–Pakistan military confrontation on 29 September 2016, the border closing ceremony continued, but on the Indian side public attendance was denied on the evenings between 29 September and 8 October 2016.[6] As a sign of the increased tensions, the BSF did not exchange sweets and greetings with Pakistani Rangers on Diwali 2016, despite a long tradition of doing so on major religious festivals like Bakr-Eid and Diwali, and also during Independence Days of both countries.[7]

Other places edit

Border ceremony at Ganda Singh Wala–Hussainiwala border

Similar border ceremonies by the Pakistan Rangers and Border Security Force just before sunset is also carried out at other India–Pakistan border posts, such as the:

Ganda Singh Wala, Kasur district (Pakistani side) / Hussainiwala, Firozpur district (Indian side)[8][9]

As at the Attari–Wagah border, border soldiers from both sides intimidate each other by throwing high kicks and by staring, and the ceremonies are concluded by a simultaneous flag or beating retreat. These ceremonies occur in smaller settings, and spectators tend to be local Punjabis rather than tourists from other regions in India, Pakistan, and other countries. The method of drill and parade is also quite different compared to the one in the Wagah-Attari border.

See also edit

Wagah-Attari Border ceremony from Pakistani side, 2013

References edit

  1. ^ "Mixed feelings on India-Pakistan border". BBC News. 14 August 2007.
  2. ^ a b Khaleeli, Homa (1 November 2010). "Goodbye to the ceremony of silly walks between India and Pakistan". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b Frank Jacobs (3 July 2012). "Peacocks at Sunset". Opinionator: Borderlines. The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Pakistan blast 'kills 45' at Wagah border with India". BBC News. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  5. ^ Kassim, Aliza (3 November 2014). "Suicide bomber kills dozens at Pakistan border parade, police say". CNN World. CNN. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  6. ^ "Attari-Wagah post echoes with patriotic chants again". hindustantimes. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  7. ^ "BSF refuses to exchange Diwali sweets at Wagah as Indo-Pak tension increases". The Economic Times. 30 October 2016. Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b 5 crossing points in India: All you need to know, India Today, 10 October 2016.
  9. ^ a b Beating Retreat Wagah India, Changing Guards, accessed 8 July 2021.
  10. ^ Sadqi retreat ceremony,, accessed 8 July 2021.
  11. ^ Second Wagah: India, Pak agree to new ceremony, beating retreat on Punjab border, Hindustan Times, 201 April 2017.
  12. ^ At Sadiqi border, strained Indo-Pak ties dampen spirits, The Tribune, 17 April 2019.

External links edit