Ive seen some bizarre traditions like the voodoo ceremonies in Burkina Faso, Womens wrestling in Bolivia, a rat worshipping Temple in India and spinning Soufis in Sudan, but the closing ceremony at the Wagah border between India and Pakistan is definitely on among the top of those experiences.
I had cought a six dollar uber from Lahore city center and arrived just minutes before the show was about to start. On the new stadium facing me from the Indian side there were thousands of spectators, and the smaller Pakistani stadium I was walking into was not even nearly half as big, but already shouting phrases like “Allahu akhbar” (also known as takbir) and Pakistan Zindabad (long live Pakistan) while first pumping and waving their white and green flags.
As if I was on a VIP list I was shown to a front row seat with excellent views of the show that was about to happen. While a one legged man was spinning around in circles and an angry looking kid was marching up and down with nazisalutelike gestures, eight to ten uniformed military men marched towards the border gate with straight backs, rifles in their hands and Black mohawk hats on their heads. After the two first ones had opened the gate, the soldiers came two by two in a fast paced march, and turning around at the gate while kicking their legs up high barely missing the heads of the Soldiers mirroring the pakistanis from the other side.
The feeling of sitting right by watching this daily show was almost indescribable. I got chills all over my back as if hell was about to break loose and all the thousands of spectators was going to be unleached to bash the s*** out of each other, but at the end the last guards gave a firm hsndshake to the soldiers of the opponent side, lowered their flags in a cross and closed the gates signalling that the show was over and everyone could leave.
All in all the appearance lasted for less than half an hour, but people come from all over the country to see this and sometimes wait up to 6 hours in line. I am glad to have seen in in person as it was a much stronger experience than I first had imagined and I have decided to come back, but to watch it from the Indian side next.