After Bhangra, will it be Bhaang on Holi at Chinese border?
By Devirupa MItra | Published: 11th August 2013 08:39 AM |
It could be Hindi Chini bhai bhai again. Chinese soldiers playing Holi with their Indian counterparts on the border or lighting crackers instead of firing mortars this Diwali is a distinct possibility. These are some light hearted ideas to defuse border tensions floated ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Beijing visit in October, during which both countries hope to sign off some big ticket items. Already, Indian and Chinese soldiers—who are usually eyeball-to-eyeball at border posts—let off steam at celebrations organized by each other on their national days; August 15 for India and October 1 for China.
“We celebrate our national days together by inviting each other to take part in ceremonies. We are thinking of expanding it to festivals,” said a senior official.
Along with national days, senior officers commanding border troops at the posts meet twice a year for personnel meetings. While these are more perfunctory, the national day ceremonies are elaborately planned, with rehearsals for cultural items taken very seriously by the hosts.
On August 15 last year, military bands struck the national anthems of both countries after a brigadier-level PLA official led a 40-strong delegation into the Indian side of Nathu-la. At a rousing performance of bhangra by Indian soldiers, the senior most Indian and Chinese officers broke into dance. This scene is likely to be repeated again next week, when the Chinese PLA crosses over to celebrate India’s Independence Day. Besides Nathu-la, such bonhomie also takes place at Spanggur Gap in Chushul sector of Eastern Ladakh and Bum La in Arunachal Pradesh. The two sides are also considering Kibuthu in the Walong sector of Arunachal Pradesh as a fourth location for border meetings cum celebrations. It is though yet to be decided which festivals would be included in the list for common celebrations.
“Weather is a factor. While Diwali is the best known Indian festival, it may be too cold to celebrate it at the border at that time,” said an official. Nathu-la is at 14,410 feet above sea level.
The Sunday Standard