The Madras Herald India Free! The streets of Madras Rejoice in Celebration!!
Thrivikram Balaji: Staff Correspondent
15th August 1947
Unprecedented scenes of enthusiasm were witnessed both inside and outside the constituent assembly chamber, where the seething, swaying members wildly cheered the momentous event, with the blowing of conches. On this occasion, Pandit Nehru delivered a speech in the assembly, “Years ago, we made a treaty 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.”
With becoming, humility, Pandit Nehru reminded the House that freedom and power bring responsibility and that the future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving. At dawn, the Prime Minister announced on the radio: “We, the People of India have been awaiting this day for the past century. The attainment of this freedom has entailed sacrifice and suffering. We of this generation are particularly fortunate in seeing the realization of a great dream, and it is proper that our hearts should be filled with thanksgiving to the almighty on this occasion. Now, we must prove deserving of the freedom we have attained and maintain the dignity of our national flag.”
In Madras, the national flag was hoisted over the 308-year-old Fort St. George at midnight, when the citizens of Madras greeted the dawn of independence with the solemn invocation and frenzied rejoicing. A strong police guard kept order with a great difficulty till the conclusion of the ceremony. It was at this time, that the crowd lost control and hundreds swarmed the building in wild enthusiasm.
Madras, in the early hours of Friday morning, was a pedestrians’ paradise. Cars either drove on the pavements, if they got the right of way, or were marooned there. Rejoicing crowds held the streets and all traffic rules were ignored. Trams and buses were not only packed to the doors but carried passengers on their roofs. Everyone cheered as the spirit of the occasion spread infectiously through the city. Few slept as bands blared and trumpets sounded in the wild cacophony throughout the memorable night.
A million lights over Madras’s public buildings made the city radiate light and beauty in celebration of the momentous event. Floodlighting was effectively employed to emphasize the artistry on the central railway terminal and hundreds of other edifices, new and old. The Station’s Clock Tower stood like a lone sentinel against the dark night in all the magic of electricity. An unbroken chain of lights stretched from the southern reaches of the Marina Beach to the Napier Bridge that was brightly ablaze in the glare of its decorated and illuminated arches. Ships lay like jewels in the harbour.
The ceremony of raising the Tri-colour at Fort St. George took the form of a service of dedication to the new India.
Report Submitted by Thrivikram Balaji (Batch: 2017-22), for the event hosted by the Literary and Debate Society in celebration of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas. (Theme- Gandhi Jayanti). Edited by Medha Mukherjee of Batch 2024 and Nayantara Bhattacharyya of Batch 2016