wagah border ceremony lahoreSince 1959, every evening a bizarre military ritual takes place along the India-Pakistan border, between Lahore and Amritsar, in the border town of Wagah. This is where the Grand Trunk Road crosses the India-Pakistan border along the Radcliff Line, which splits the region of Punjab. A line on a map drawn in 1947 by British lawyer Cyril Radcliff, who had never been to either country, yet was tasked with outlining their borders at the end of England’s occupation of India. The official purpose of this dance is the synchronized lowering of the national flags on both sides, yet the subtext is “we still don’t like you” – but strangely can get together and choreograph what has become a tourist attraction in addition to military exercise.

Personally, I found the spectacle of the supporters on both sides making more symbolic noise than the most aggressive foot stamps of any solider. The Indian side essentially is a party – and you’ll notice in the video above that it’s all women who are dancing. A stark contrast to the segregated Pakistani side, where only the men boisterous and the females, mostly covered, sit in relative silence.

In 2010, both Pakistan and India agreed to remove some of the more aggressive gestures in the ceremony, but it’s not really the soldiers sending the messages any more here, at the only road crossing a 2,900 kilometer border.

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