The Independence Day in India is celebrated annually on 15 August in honor of the nation’s independence from British rule on 15 August 1947. India attained freedom following an independence movement noted for largely nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience led by the Indian National Congress. Independence coincided with the partition of India, in which the British Indian Empire was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan.
At midnight, as India moved into 15 August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru delivered speech proclaiming India’s independence.
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”
—Tryst with Destiny speech, Jawaharlal Nehru, 15 August 1947 (Speech on Indian Independence Day, 1947)
The Dominion of India became an independent country as official ceremonies took place in New Delhi. Nehru assumed office as the first prime minister, and the viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, continued as its first governor general. Gandhi himself however took no part in the official events. Instead, he marked the day with a 24-hour fast, during which he spoke to a crowd in Calcutta, encouraging peace between Hindu and Muslim.
Independence Day, one of the three national holidays in India (the other two being the Republic Day on 26 January and Mohandas Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October), is observed in all Indian states and union territories. Independence Day celebrations takes place in Delhi, where the prime minister hoists the national flag at the Red Fort and delivers from its ramparts a speech. Twenty-one gun shots are fired in honor of the solemn occasion. In his speech, the prime minister highlights the past year’s achievements, raises important issues and calls for further development. He pays tribute to the leaders of the freedom struggle. The Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana” is sung. The speech is followed by march past of divisions of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces. Parades and pageants showcase scenes from the freedom struggle and India’s diverse cultural traditions.Delhi’s skyline gets dotted with thousands of kites taking to the sky this day. Similar programs are held at all the State capitals also.