French citizens in Mahe to observe Armistice Day - The New Indian Express

French citizens in Mahe to observe Armistice Day

Published: 11th November 2012 10:39 AM

Last Updated: 11th November 2012 10:39 AM

On the eleventh second of the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year, most of the western world will celebrate Armistice Day which commemorates the end of World War I. While largely forgotten in India, a group of French citizens in the Union Territory of Mahe will also join the world in paying tributes to those who lost their lives during the World War I.

The region, a part of the Union Territory of Pondicherry, still has more than 100 people who opted for French citizenship after the country ceded its colonies to India in 1954. An association for these people called the Union des Fracais de Mahe, will be taking the lead in celebrating Armistice on Sunday. “Armistice Day is a national holiday in France and throughout much of Europe and we, being French citizens, will duly celebrate the event in Mahe too.

There are more than a 100 of us here but only around 70 will be attending the event,” said Adiery Kanakarajan, president of the organisation.

The celebration will begin with a small prayer ceremony at the Mahe Church. “After the prayer, we will place a bouquet at the statue of Jeanne D’Arc or Joan of Arc as she is more popularly known. We will then walk to the nearby Tagore Park where there is a statue of ‘Marianne’- the national emblem of France- and we will have a small military ceremony in front of it. Then we will observe a minute’s silence after which we will head to our association hall nearby for the rest of the celebrations,” Kanakarajan said.

For a community whose younger generations are slowly losing touch with their French identity, Armistice Day is one of the two yearly reminders of who they really are.

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