"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom". These were the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru from his 'Tryst with Destiny' speech that he delivered to the Indian Constituent Assembly in the Parliament, hours before the clock struck midnight on August 15, 1947.
India became an independent country. Free India's first independence day speech actually came on August 16, 1947, delivered by Pt. Nehru from the ramparts of Red Fort where he also hoisted the Tricolour. He was the interim prime minister of the Dominion of India from August 15, 1947 to January 26, 1950. Nehru would go on to become the Republic of India's first prime minister in 1952.
But with his speech at the Red Fort, Nehru began an independence day tradition where the prime minister would address the entire nation on the joyous occasion with millions either attending the event in person or following the live broadcast via radio and television.
Fast forward to 2022 when India celebrates 75 years of its independence from the British Raj. The current prime minister Narendra Modi continues the tradition once started by Nehru as he delivered the independence day speech from the Red Fort. During his speech, Modi also mentioned Pt. Nehru as one of the architects of free India along with Mahatma Gandhi, and Sardar Vallabhbhai.
This was PM Modi's ninth consecutive speech and throughout this period, he has been following a tradition of his own since the beginning of his tenure as India's prime minister in 2014: Wearing a turban.
The Turban in 2022
Carrying on with his turban tradition during his independence day speech, Modi wore a white turban with tricolour stripes on it. This goes on with the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign under the broader initiative of 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' that commemorates India's 75 years of independence.
Bringing out the spirit of the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign, Modi stood on the ramparts of the Red Fort, standing out with his tricolour-inspired turban and delivered another annual speech to the nation with various promises.
Beginning Of A Tradition
Modi was sworn in as India's prime minister in 2014, taking charge from former PM Manmohan Singh. Thus began a tradition in 2014 when Modi delivered his first independence day speech from the Red Fort in 2014. It was also the first time Modi donning a turban. He wore a bright red coloured Jodhpuri bandhej turban.
This was followed by 2015 when the prime minister wore a yellow coloured turban featuring multi-coloured criss-cross lines on it. There was a change in style and colour in 2016 when Modi donned a tie and dye turban in shades of pink and yellow during the 15th August celebrations.
In 2017, he wore a combination of bright red and yellow with golden lines crisscrossed all over. 2018 saw Modi wearing a saffron turban when he stood at the Red Fort for his annual independence day speech.
2019 And Afterwards
The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) reclaimed the majority in the Lok Sabha for a second consecutive time. Thus began the second tenure of Narendra Modi as India's prime minister. He continued with his tradition of independence day speech, from the Red Fort to the entire nation.
The crowd and media yet again saw the prime minister continuing his turban tradition where in 2019, he donned a yellow turban with multicoloured stripes and a long red trail. His headgear in 2020 was saffron and cream in colour with a long tail.
Last year (i.e. 2021), saw Modi featuring a Kolhapuri Pheta-style safa with a long trail (mostly pink in colour). His latest addition was a white-coloured turban with tricolour stripes to go along with the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign. The 2022 white turban stood out from his other headgears, adding a new element to his collections of independence day turbans.
Significance Of Turban In India
As a headgear, the turban is often associated with people from the Sikh community. But the turban often signifies an individual's social status. Earlier, kings and rulers once used to wear turbans in-and-around South Asia. The Sikh gurus adopted the turban as part of their practice, reminding the practitioners that all humans are sovereign, royal and ultimately equal. The practice also helps them to protect their hair, which also plays an important role in their faith.
Turban also plays a big role in various Hindu societies with the wearer signifying power and dominance. It is often worn during celebratory occasions like marriages and in PM Modi's case, there has been a new shade and style of turban during national occasions like independence day and republic day.
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