77 Years Later, These Grandmas Reflect On 1947 Independence Day

They were little girls when Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the tricolour at Red Fort on August 15, 1947. Now, 77 years later, these women look back on Independence Day - their lives before and since.

Uma Bakshi
New Update
Freedom Women Fight Independence Day

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August 15, 1947, marked the dawn of a new era in Indian history- one free of imperial reign. Now, 77 years later, the world of 1947 seems like a lifetime ago.

The truth is, it isn’t - there are people who remember what India looked like pre-Independence. For many of our grandparents and elderly citizens today, their first Independence Day was India’s first Independence Day. While one may have read about what the first Independence Day was like in the eyes of the freedom fighters who fought for it, what about the perspective of the ordinary little girl? 

That was what many of our grandmothers were when Independence Day was first celebrated in 1947- little girls. We're asking a few of them what their experience was like, and how they look at the 76th Independence Day celebrations now, in light of all they've seen since the first one.

The First Independence Day In India

Jayashree* was a 3-year-old girl on her mother's lap when the tricolour flag was unfurled and hoisted for the first time at Red Fort on August 15, 1947. Now 79, she confesses that while her memory of India's first Republic Day is more clear than that of India’s first Independence Day, she still remembers how, in her neighbourhood in Kulti, West Bengal, people gathered in the local club to hear Nehru’s speech (Tryst With Destiny). “A ‘tea party’ of sorts was held in our neighbourhood- we all came with food and shared it amongst each other,” she recalls. “The fact that we called it a ‘tea party’ was a sign our colonial ideas hadn’t left us yet!”

Sona* was a bit older when Independence was achieved. At the age of five, she remembers how her neighbourhood in Madhupur, (Jharkhand) celebrated India’s first Independence Day in 1947. Her family’s celebration of the nation's Independence was tempered with grief- her mother’s younger brother had recently died. “I remember my mother’s friend pinning little flags on all the children in joy,” she recalls. “She pinned one on my sister, and then one on me- in her excitement, she accidentally pierced my skin, drawing blood,” she says. “Even though I was five years old, I was ever the philosopher- to me, the pain of my injury was nothing compared to my sorrow at my uncle’s death.”

The Cost Of Independence


Even now, Sona still feels the loss. “My mother was bedridden with lung disease, and my father couldn’t take care of us, so my mama had moved to Madhupur to be with us. His death affected both me and my sister immensely- I can’t think of Independence Day without thinking about him,” she says. She believes that this is the case for many people in her generation. “So many lives were lost,” she says. “It came at a massive cost to many families.” 

Jayashree, now a grandmother to five, believes that without independence, India would be in a worse place today. As a school teacher, she used to tell her students what she herself was told when she was at school- that they’re lucky to be born in an Independent India. “That idea our freedom fighters had, of an independent India for everyone, is so important,” she says. “We must hold on to it- and never let it go.”

*Name changed for anonymity.

Suggested reading: Here's What Independence Means To Women Of Today

women grandmothers Women Of Independence 76 Independence Day Independence Day 2023 1947