GADAG: On the morning of August 15 every year, when most Indians gather around a flag of their country and celebrate Independence Day, thousands of residents of Jakkali are already back home, having observed the occasion at the correct time that India became independent, at midnight.
What started as an idea in 2015, to stick to the right time to celebrate such a momentous occasion, has quickly become a tradition. Every year, 8,000 villagers, including women and children make sure they hoist the Indian flag every year at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, as Nehru narrated famously in his speech.
While the flag hoisting at midnight is an honour reserved for the seniors of the village, festivities at Jakkali, located 35 km from Gadag, begin the previous evening around 4 pm.. These include cultural programmes, speeches on freedom fighters, the singing of patriotic songs and various other activities. Children are narrated tales of freedom fighters and their struggle for independence.
This unique way of celebrating started when in 2015, some youngsters from the village met their seniors and suggested celebrating Independence Day as a fete instead of a formal function. They also arranged for sweets to be distributed and dinner to be served. The tradition entered its fifth year this August and is still going strong.
In 2018, the festivities began at 4 pm and ended at 2 am. This year too, midnight celebrations were held. At the end of the programme, retired soldiers from Jakkali and surrounding villages were feted. Roti, palya, rice, sambar and a sweet were served to every villager.
“Independence Day for us is a festival and we all celebrate it together. Our format is different from the others as we also provide a platform for local talent to perform. They dance, sing or give speeches. Usually girls in the village are shy and we help in boosting their confidence. Maybe they can be the next Kittur Rani Chennamma,” says Nanda Menasagi, a resident.
Keerthi Menasagi, a student in Jakkali, says, “Celebrating Independence Day at night is a tradition and it is like a fair every year. No other village around us has such functions. We make sure we attend every year without fail. All programmes teach us new things and every year there are different guests. They all praise us for the uniqueness of the celebrations and say that they are not bored, not even for a single minute.”
The function has had the enthusiastic support of the local Gram Panchayat which has continued to extend its support since the tradition began in 2015.
At the Jakkali Government Model Primary School, remembering Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, is a daily affair. Gandhi forms a large part of the students’ lives here as they salute him daily before their prayers. A big idol of the Mahatma dominates the campus and is many years old. The students also perform a weekly puja for Gandhi after cleaning the statue and sprucing it up with Vibhuthi.