At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.
Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking on India's first Independence Day, 1947
Precisely at midnight between the 14th and 15th of August, 1947, Great Britain let go of India. At the same moment in time, the country was divided, into a Muslim country - Pakistan - and a non-Muslim one. Distancing themselves from the beginning, the two countries chose different national holidays to celebrate their freedom. Pakistan celebrates itself on August 14, India does so on the following day.
Recently gained freedom becomes more important than the old one you're used to. Therefore, India's day of independence is celebrated vigorously across the country, by everybody from government officials to school children. The country doesn't exactly shut down, but there is much waving of flags and other patriotic-looking things.
A tradition from the first time it was marked, is the hoisting of India's flag from the grandiose Red Fort, usually done by the prime minister. The fort is popular both with tourists and terrorists, and in violent times like these, it is closed to the public from early August to make sure it is safe and bomb-free.
Among the people, a beautiful tradition has become part of the day - kite flying. This is a very Indian pastime, which is also quite symbolic of freedom.