Thursday January 26 was special. It was India’s Republic Day. School was out and businesses and offices took the day off to celebrate the nation’s constitution.

Teenagers singing for Republic Day ceremony.

I’ve been teaching a couple of classes Monday through Friday each week. They were also cancelled. (I didn’t detect any remorse on my students’ faces when I announced we wouldn’t meet on Thursday evening.)

The constitution was actually signed by 308 members of the national assembly on January 24, 1950 but did not take effect until two days later, the day now celebrated as Republic Day. It’s a big deal here. New Delhi’s parade—at least as we watched it on television—rivals the best of parades in the States.

Mission workers waiting for the ceremonial unfurling.

Republic Day isn’t the same as Independence Day. That’s celebrated on August 15. In 1947, after the long struggle for national autonomy led by Mohandas Gandhi, the United Kingdom finally partitioned and granted self-rule to India and Pakistan, one a primarily Hindu and the other a primarily Muslim country.

The unfurling of the flag signals the start of Republic Day at Kulpahar Christian School.

Because India didn’t yet have a viable constitution, England ruled the new nation a little longer under King George VI with Earl Mountbatten as governor-general. The governing document was eventually ratified in 1950. It was that ratification  we celebrated on the 26th.
We joined the Kulpahar Kids Home community for the event. At 9:00 we all stood at attention as the flag was unfurled.

All 391 students attended the Republic Day ceremonies. Here are most of them; the rest are off the picture at the left.

Then all the students favored us with a program of singing and dancing and speechifying, from the littlest up to and including the twelfth graders.

The littlest pupils dancing for Republic Day ceremony.

I think India inherited from the British their love of pageantry. They do it well here. We didn’t understand their Hindi, of course, but we did understand that Republic Day is taken seriously.

One form of public transportation–an auto-rickshaw. We didn’t fit, so we rode to the lake in a SUV.

In the afternoon our hosts Linda and Sharon took us out to Bela Taal (also known as Belasager Lake) to join the hostel boys and others for a picnic at the site of the old fort there.

A Hindu temple en route to Belasager Lake. It’s designed for believers who take their worship seriously.

The lake, about a 10 kilometer (six mile) drive from Kulpahar, is a source of irrigation for the area. It’s also a popular site for fishing and growing water chestnuts.

A view of one end of Belasager Lake.

The group said how good it was to see the lake full. The area has suffered drought conditions for five years. Thanks to bountiful rains this past rainy season, the mission’s eight wells are full and should be able to supply water for the coming couple of years. (During the drought, four of them went completely dry, so this is an excellent forecast.)

It was fun picnicking with the boys. Linda had given them from 30 to 50 rupees apiece (about 60 rupees to the dollar) to shop in the nearby village. They played with their purchases—when the supervising “adults” weren’t doing so with the boys’ toys. Lots of laughter. I couldn’t help musing how readily that laughter comes to children who have so little.

Some of the hostel boys and their older leaders at the picnic.
This looks like an impressionistic painting, but it’s really a photograph of the boats on the lake.
Saturday shoe repair and shine shop near the Kulpahar Kids Home bungalow.

We continue to be impressed with the administration of Kulpahar Kids Home. It’s a complex operation. We observed little things that’d we never have thought of, like keeping shoes polished (and tooth brushes sorted). Everywhere the children walk is in dirt and dust. I’m glad you can’t see my own shoes! On our last Saturday I took advantage of this service.

Girls hostel tooth brushes. How are they certain they are getting their own?
Girls’ hostel dorm room. It does seem a little tidier than the boys’, I’m afraid.
The Hat’s other hat. He owns more than one, you know! This is his summer hat, even though it’s winter here. You can’t see them, but for once his shoes are polished.

A picture is missing in this post. That’s because it wasn’t taken. On the day we arrived Linda told us her story of the cobra they killed in the house a few days before we came. That made us feel very secure in our guest quarters. So far, though, we haven’t spotted another one. We’re glad not to have a cobra picture, if it’s all the same to you.

It’s time to bring this report to a close. We’ll leave Kulpahar next week. I’ll prepare one more post before we leave. That one will feature some of our friends here. We want to introduce them to you.

11 thoughts on “REPUBLIC DAY IN INDIA”

  1. Thank you once again for your pictures and descriptions of the ministry in Kulpahar. And may your room be free from snakes! You two are a wonder!

  2. I wonder if this is the home/school at Kulpaharth Lucille Ford, missionary to India in the early 1900s, wrote about? She was a friend of Earl’s parents and supported by the church his father pastored? Also Maggie Waters, former missionary to India, and whose husband taught missions at Butler School of Religion, wrote about a home/school at Kulpaharth in her book.

    1. I checked with Linda and Sharon and they said yes, Lucille Ford was a missionary here in the early 1900s. She was still been here in 1947 when Dolly and Leah arrived to begin their work. She was the last Disciples missionary to work here. She took care of at least 26 widows at her retirement at 65 (I remember when I thought 65 was old). The school/home that Lucille wrote about was gone when Leah and Dolly arrived.cI didn’t know her, but Joy and I had the privilege of having Archie and Maggie Waters as guests in our home early in our ministry. Delightful people This was after Archie had finished his teaching at Butler and was ministering in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

  3. Fascinating photos and commentary, Roy and Joy! Thanks for taking us along on your journey. Linda’s story of the uninvited cobra reminds us of son Ben’s account of an uninvited rattlesnake in the main building at Taliesin West–no photo of that one either.

  4. What a joy it was to meet up with you at Kulpahar! Thanks for letting me join the tour! It’s fun to see Joy’s pictures, especially when I was right there while she took them. It truly is a special place and amazing ministry. Thanks for you example to my generation in your “retirement”. It’s not an easy task to get there so kudos to you guys. God bless you in your travels!

    1. We were glad you could spend those all-too-brief hours with us in Kulpahar, Brian. You were a most welcome guest at the mission. We’re grateful to our mutual Damoh friends for making the trip possible. God bless you in your new assignment.

  5. Love how you share your story Roy, and your pics are full of beauty, peace and joy, Joy! Looking forward to meeting your friends and hosts, and then, at your side for the next amazing adventure!

  6. As usual, love reading about your adventure (for want of a better word😊) and continue to look forward to the next news. And thanks again to Joy for the great photography.

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