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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

A unique custom of Indian Army

IN A unique tradition of the Indian Army, the junior commissioned officers (JCOs) host lunch for the officers on the Independence Day in their mess, while the officers reciprocate the gesture for the JCOs on Republic Day in their mess.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 00:24 IST
Rajesh Jauhri
Rajesh Jauhri
None
Hindustantimes
         

IN A unique tradition of the Indian Army, the junior commissioned officers (JCOs) host lunch for the officers on the Independence Day in their mess, while the officers reciprocate the gesture for the JCOs on Republic Day in their mess.

This tradition is prevalent since the British Raj days but not much has been written about it and very few know about it. This fine tradition was witnessed on this Republic Day in the messes of the Army War College, MCTE, Infantry School, Military Hospital, 18 Madras Regiment and other military establishments in Mhow.

The Indian Army follows deep-rooted customs and traditions. These have emanated over hundred years and are a happy mix of ancient, medieval and contemporary influences. Being very much part of the Indian societal fabric, soldiers takes great pride in identifying themselves with these customs and traditions.

Republic Day, when the JCOs are invited by the officers to a banquet held in the Officers’ Mess, an atmosphere of camaraderie prevails and the guests and the hosts freely interact while sipping drinks and munching snacks. They share their views and opinions in an informal manner.

They wear regimental clothes such as mufti dress, cravats, ties and other accoutrements of  ‘Fauji nature’. This gesture is duly reciprocated by the JCOs on Independence Day when they invite the officers to the JCO mess. These two goodwill functions are held in all the units and regiments of the Indian Army.

The origin of this custom traces back to British days but in reality it existed in the princely state forces also albeit in a different form.

Great warrior leaders such as Shivaji, Maharana Pratap and Maharaja Ranjit Singh displayed enigmatic love and affection for their soldiers and stayed with them sharing the hazards, happiness and food with equal poise.

The commune system being followed in the Chinese army also envisages that officers and soldiers eat, drink and live together to nurture the spirit of togetherness which ultimately pays great dividends when they have to fight shoulder to shoulder to ward off the enemy.

Talking to the Hindustan Times, renowned writer and retired army officer Col Ravi Batra said that Indian armed forces accord top most priority to age-old customs. Most of these are being gloriously followed in letter and spirit by individual units or regiments since British India days.

Post-Independence customs are practiced all over the Indian Army with gaiety and fervour. All officers and JCOs thus not only enjoy the festivity of great events but also remind each other to preserve the sanctity of these occasions and also to remain steadfastly ready to give supreme sacrifices of their lives so that the coming generations continue to enjoy each year such historical days, Col Batra said.

Subedar Prem Lal, who retired from the Infantry School, said that though there is a vast gap between the higher and lower ranks in the Army, the JCOs get a lot of respect on both Independence Day and Republic Day.

“We meet each other in these functions and get a family-like atmosphere. We have personal conversation and exchange views on various issues. In normal course we, the personnel of lower ranks, don’t even think of meeting the senior officers.

Thus, this unique tradition helps in maintaining harmony and cohesiveness within the Army,” he added.