Wagah border ceremony

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Wagah Border Ceremony
वागह सीमा समारोह
واہگہ بورڈر کروسِنگ
ਵਗਾਹ ਬੋਰਡਰ ਨੀ
Punjab map.svg
Wagah is located on the international highway between Amritsar, India and Lahore, Pakistan.
Genre Military display
Dates Every day
Years active 59 (since 1959)
Founded Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers
Wagah Border Ceremony from Pakistani Side, 2013
Wagah border crossing view from Indian side, 2013

The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Force) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959.[1] The drill is characterized by elaborate and rapid dance-like maneuvers, which has been described as "colourful".[1] It is alternatively a symbol of the two countries' rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations. One leader, however, described it as "ugly" and "vulgar".[2]


This ceremony takes place every evening before sunset at the Wagah border, which as part of the Grand Trunk Road was the only road link between these two countries before the opening of the Aman Setu in Kashmir in 1999. The ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both the sides, and ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations' flags.[3] It is called the "beating retreat" border ceremony on the international level. One infantryman stands at attention on each side of the gate. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again. The spectacle of the ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border, as well as international tourists.[3] In October 2010, Major General Yaqub Ali Khan of the Pakistan Rangers decided that the aggressive aspect of the ceremonial theatrics should be toned down.[1][4]

2014 suicide attack[edit]

On 2 November 2014, approximately 60 people were killed and at least 110 people were injured in a suicide attack on the Pakistan side of the Wagah border. An 18- to 20-year-old attacker detonated a 5 kg explosive in his vest 500 metres from the crossing point in the evening right after the Wagah border ceremony ended.[5][6]

2016 Indo-Pakistani tensions[edit]

After the India–Pakistan military confrontation on 29 September 2016 the border closing ceremony continued, but on the Indian side public attendance was denied on the evenings between 29 September and 8 October, 2016.[7] As a sign of the increased tensions, the BSF did not exchange sweets and greetings with Pakistani Rangers on Diwali 2016, despite a yearlong tradition doing so on major religious festivals like the Eid and Diwali, and also during Independence Days of both countries.[8]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Khaleeli, Homa (1 November 2010). "Goodbye to the ceremony of silly walks between India and Pakistan". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Press Trust of India (2 February 2015). "Yashwant Sinha calls Wagah beating retreat ceremony ugly". dna. New Delhi, India: Diligent Media Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 16 August 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Frank Jacobs (3 July 2012). "Peacocks at Sunset". Opinionator: Borderlines. The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Doherty, Ben (2012-01-29). "Ritual dance between bitter brothers". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  5. ^ "Pakistan blast 'kills 45' at Wagah border with India". BBC News. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Police: Suicide bomber kills dozens at Pakistan border parade". CNN. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Attari-Wagah post echoes with patriotic chants again". hindustantimes. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  8. ^ "BSF refuses to exchange Diwali sweets at Wagah as Indo-Pak tension increases". The Economic Times. 30 October 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 

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