INS Tarangini, the Indian naval ship docked at Thames Quay in east London on its UK voyage to coincide with the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence, played host to the Indian diaspora’s Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations this week.
Following the ship’s grand welcome to the docks over the weekend, the three-masted Made-in-India barque attracted hundreds of visitors and was also the site of the Indian High Commission in London’s official Independence Day reception.
Commodore Anil Jaggi, Naval Adviser at the High Commission, said: “Tarangini has been undertaking voyages to build bridges of friendship across the globe and her presence in London on the Independence Day of India makes this port call extra special.
“The name Tarangini is derived from the Hindi word Tarang, which means waves. Tarangini, therefore, means the one who rides the waves. I can vouch that she does ride the waves but with her share of rolling and pitching. The ship is definitely not for the faint-hearted.”
Speaking with pride of the 1997-commissioned tall sailing ship, Commanding Officer Praveen Kumar noted: “INS Tarangini is part of the first training squad of Indian Navy’s Southern Naval Command and is based at Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
“The primary role of the ship is to foster time-honoured virtues of courage, camaraderie and endurance in officer cadets embarking on a naval career.”
With the tricolour unfurled on its deck, the sail training ship for the Indian Navy formed the backdrop as the national anthem was followed by Punjabi dhol beats and classical dance and music performances on the banks of the river Thames to celebrate Independence Day.
Sujit Ghosh, the Acting Indian High Commissioner to the UK, said: “India’s journey of 75 years has truly been a remarkable one… we are a young nation, we are also an ancient civilisation rooted in the values and wisdom of our ancestors.
“As two great democracies with shared values and principles, the India-UK partnership will contribute to the security and prosperity of our peoples and the global good.”
The Chief Guest of the event, attended by representatives of the Indian diaspora in the UK, parliamentarians and community leaders, was Lieutenant General Charlie Stickland – Chief of Joint Operations, UK.
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“We are bound together through business, trade, education, science, art and culture, sport and, of course, through defence and security,” said Lt. Gen. Stickland.
Among some of the other highlights of the Independence Day celebrations in the UK included the historic Guildhall headquarters of the City of London Corporation in the financial heart of the UK capital being illuminated in the colours of the Indian national flag.
City of London Corporation Policy Chairman Chris Hayward said: “We are proud to celebrate this landmark anniversary, the important role India has played in the past 75 years as the world’s largest democracy and the strong and developing trade links between the UK and India.”
India-born London Councillor Rehana Ameer added: “This lighting symbolises the greatness of India and the huge economic opportunity it offers to the world.
“The British Indian diaspora is a living bridge between the UK and India, and there cannot be a better occasion to recognise and celebrate the remarkable contribution of the 1.5 million-strong British Indian diverse community to the UK economy and all walks of British life,” she said.
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The corporation said the tricolour lights also symbolise the strong trade links between the UK and India.
Besides, the diaspora festivities included a special flag-hoisting ceremony at the iconic Taj St. James’ Court Hotel in central London.
“Taj London remains the proud custodian of India’s culture and heritage in the United Kingdom,” the hotel said in a statement.