Special ceremonies, exhibitions, folk-music concerts, stage shows and speech competitions
lowing all kinds of loud horns, riding motorbikes without their silencers and a certain amount of hooliganism on public roads have become regular features of the Independence Day celebrations in the provincial metropolis.
As usual the night of the 75th Independence Day is going to be festive and noisy. The city is being decorated with lights, flags and buntings. Cars, motorcycles and other vehicles are being decorated and a large number of Lahoris are determined to spend hours on the city streets to celebrate the I-Day.
A large number of youths remove their bike’s mufflers (silencers) before taking to the roads. Almost everyone, especially children, decorate their houses with buntings and flags.
The main flag hoisting ceremony accompanies the change of guards at the tomb of Allama Iqbal. Flag-hoisting ceremonies are also scheduled at various places including some private institutions. Prominent ceremonies will be held at the Wagha Border, the Wapda House, the Railway Headquarters and the Town Hall.
Besides the ceremonies, exhibitions, folk-music concerts, stage shows and speech competitions are being organised by various organisations to mark the day.
Public parks and entertainment venues like cinema houses and theatres are likely to be crowded. The Army Museum in Cantonment has been one of the most visited places in recent years. A very large number of citizens also visit the Lahore Zoo where the administration has made special arrangements for the day.
The city police have made special arrangements to prevent an untoward situation. Heavy contingents of police have been mobilised to keep order on roads and to ensure safety at popular public places.
Security officials in plainclothes will also be deployed at various important places to keep a vigilant eye on the movement of holiday crowds. Traffic wardens, Rescue 1122 and Civil Defence officials have been put on high alert.
Civic agencies i.e. the Water and Sanitation Agency, the Lahore Waste Management Company and the City District Government have made special arrangements to cope with any kind of emergency.
As usual, The Mall is likely to attract the largest number of parade watchers and stunt riders. Face painting, particularly in national colours, too, is expected to remain a popular trend.
The number of youths wearing green and white T-shirts or wrapping flags around their bodies while joy riding on bikes has been rising in the recent years. The trend is likely to continue.
A large number of youths remove their bike’s mufflers (silencers) before taking to the streets. Almost everyone, especially children, decorate their houses with buntings and flags.
Badges carrying pictures of prominent Pakistanis, including Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Imran Khan and Dr Qadeer Khan have been selling well on the road side stalls.
Traffic jams are likely – planning and efforts by traffic police notwithstanding – on The Mall, the Canal Bank Road and the Gymkhana Road.
Popular food points in every city locality expect a roaring business and have made preparations in anticipation of it. These include Lakshami Chowk, the Gowalmandi Food Street, Moon Market in Allama Iqbal Town, the Anarkali Food Street, the MM Alam Road, Liberty and Barkat Market in Garden Town.
Commissioner Capt Muhammad Usman (retired) tells The News on Sunday (TNS) that the grand official ceremony will be held at Hazoori Bagh. He says Chief Minister Parvez Elahi will be the chief guest on the occasion. He says special invitations have been sent to heroes of the Pakistan Movement for their participation in the ceremony.
The commissioner says he has directed that camps be set up in all city zones to ensure orderly festivity. At the Hazoori Bagh ceremony, he says, hundreds of scouts and uniformed student bands will perform national songs.
He says that on the night of August 14, there will be fireworks at five venues. The Covid SoPs will be strictly observed at all public ceremonies as per instructions of the Health Department.
In case of rain, says Commissioner Usman, the celebrations will be shifted to the Aiwan-i-Iqbal. He says has directed all assistant commissioners in Lahore to supervise the preparation of 50 platforms for flag hoisting ceremonies in all tehsils in collaboration with the private sector.
He says he has also asked the Punjab Horticulture Authority (PHA) to make sure that the city roads are cleared of all advertising material and carry only the national flags or banners with Independence Day themes.
A number of youths interviewed by TNS say that they associate the day with self-expression and freedom. That is why they says, they will sport various face masks, colourful clothes and motorbikes without mufflers. Many say they prefer noisy motorcycles simply for the thrill of it.
Jamshed, a resident of Township, says he has decorated his car with national flags will be driving it on The Mall to celebrate with everyone else. He says last year one of his friends’ brothers was in an accident while joyriding on the Independence Day. He says he and his friends had promised then never to use motorbikes on Independence Day again.
Many businesses, including some multinational companies, are also organizing colourful shows. Some have spent millions of rupees on advertising their products produced especially for the occasion. Many companies, including cellular phone service providers, have announced special schemes to attract more customers.
Social organisations are celebrating the day by holding seminars and ceremonies across the city.
“Preschoolers have none or very little knowledge of what Independence Day is and the history behind it, so we try to build their interest with different activities, including flag painting, playing with balloons, etc anything that they can later take home and show their parents. These things are done according to the grade that the children are in. When they are in higher classes, these activities should become more engaging and informative to introduce as much knowledge as the children can absorb. Then, as the day approaches, special functions are organised to create a strong sense of what the day means to them and the people around them. We usually follow colour codes during these preparations. Items such as balloons, flags and badges engage students better than text. National songs like Dil Dil Pakistan are played around our campus throughout the month of August. Gradually their understanding around this topic develops and they are ready to cope with more complex topics regarding the history of Pakistan.”
– Samra Saif, Preschool teacher, LGS
“The history of August 14 cannot be taught in a day. It should be an ongoing process throughout the year. Children are fast learners so we can teach them about things like following the rules, not littering, loving their country, and a little bit about how Pakistan was founded and what sacrifices were made for it. Schools usually make this a part of their social sciences course. As the day approaches we can ask children to take part in decorating the school; get them to make cards; even ask them to write about why they love their country; about things they’d want to do to improve their country; and as responsible citizens what their duties are towards their country. By getting involved in these activities they get to learn more about their country. The most important thing is to ask children about their opinions to make them feel responsible and heard. Specifically, on that day we can arrange group activities for children to take part in. The true essence of Independence Day can only be felt when these activities become an ongoing process.”
– Zara Khurram, Junior school teacher, LGS
The writer is a city reporter at The News