I had noticed something unusual when the song “Aye Mere Wathan Ke Logo” sung by Great Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar was being played.
by Admiral Ravindra C Wijegunaratne
I served as the First Secretary/ Defence Adviser at the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, India from November 2001 to April 2004. It was a three years and five months long tenure and I served under two High Commissioners, namely late Professor Senake Bandaranaike and late Mr. Mangala Munasinghe. Late Hon Lakshman Kadirgamar and late Hon Tyronne Fernando were the Foreign Ministers during my tenure.
|Sri Lanka High Commission, New Delhi, India.|
I was occupying a residence inside the High Commission complex in Kautilya Marg, Chanakyapuri, in the Diplomatic enclave of New Delhi. Our chief gardener was Perry Ram. He was a very experienced gardener who had served in the High Commission for the past 30 years. He was a very dedicated person who worked tirelessly to maintain the High Commission premises with beautiful flower beds and flower pots. February to April of every year is the most beautiful time in New Delhi, with flowers blossoming in mild cold weather. Sri Lankan High Commission garden looked very beautiful during this period, thanks to Mr. Perry Ram and his two assistants. Perry Ram had gone to school only up to Fifth Grade. Our High Commission garden had won the “Best Garden in New Delhi” award three times in the ’90s, thanks to then young Perry Ram. Now he is old and the award had been awarded to the garden of the Indian Chief of Air Staff (Indian Air Force Commander) residence.
I had a CD which contained Indian patriotic songs that were presented to me by the then Indian Chief of Naval Staff (Indian Navy Commander). I used to play these songs loud at my residence, because they were beautiful and could be heard even from my garden.
I had noticed something unusual when the song “Aye Mere Wathan Ke Logo” sung by Great Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar was being played. Perry Ram who was working in the garden would stop his work and come into attention until the song was over. It’s not the Indian National Anthem! Then why does Perry Ram come into attention? I inquired the reason from one of my friendly Indian Naval officers. He said “Ravi, this song was sung by Lataji in honour of the Indian Armed forces personnel who died in the Sino- Indian War in 1962. So, everyone comes to attention when it is sung in honour of those brave service personnel who paid the supreme sacrifice.” The half-educated gardener showed me what gratitude was and how to honour the War Heroes.
Perry Ram showed me what was patriotism at heart. Aye Mere Watanke Logo (available in YouTube – please listen) song was written by Kavi Pradeep (refer Wikipedia) sadden by the large loss of Indian Army officers and men in the Sino-Indian War in 1962. The bravery and valour of the Indian forces to stop the Chinese advance were heard throughout India. Indian public was very sad of the supreme sacrifices made by their gallant Army.
During his morning walks at Mahim beach in Mumbai, the writer of the song, Kavi Pradeep had some ideas for a new song to be dedicated to these gallant men. He had immediately borrowed a pen from a fellow walker and written down a few verses of this new song on the other side of a foil paper in his cigarette packet.
Later, the song was composed by C Ramachandra. The initial plan had been to have the song sung as a duet by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. However, the composer Kavi Pradeep had opposed to the idea and it was sung only by Latha.
The song was first sung at the National Stadium of New Delhi on 27th January 1963 during the Indian Republic Day celebrations by Lata Mangeshkar in front of HE S Radhakrishnan, the Indian President and Hon Jawaharlal Nehru, Hon Prime Minister (PM) of India. The stadium had been full to its capacity and it was only a few months after the Sino-Indian War was over. The song had become an immediate hit. The story says that Hon. Jawaharlal Nehru had tears in his eyes. Later, when it was inquired by a reporter, Hon. PM had said,
“Those who aren’t inspired by the Aye Mere Wathan Ke Logo song, don’t deserve to be called Hindustani.”
Artists/technical staff and Lataji had agreed that the income from the song should be sent to Indian Army welfare fund for the welfare of the families of the Indian Army personnel killed in action.
Song received a huge appreciation from the public and even today, when it’s sung, everyone gets up and comes to attention. At the end of the song, it says “Jaya Hindi Ke Sena” (Long live Indian Army!) Please enjoy the song………….
Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon (Original Version | Patriotic songs) I wish we also have a song dedicated to our war heroes
O people of my
Country Let us shout the slogan This auspicious day Belong to all of us
Hoist our beloved flag and let us not forget Our brave warriors
Who left their lives on the border
Give a thought to them Let us also
remember Those who did not return
home O people of my Country
Fill your eyes with tears Remember the sacrifice of those who became martyrs
And lets you forget them Listen to this story
When the Himalayas were attacked and our freedom was
threatened they fought right to
Then they laid down their bodies with their faces on their
The immortal martyrs went to
sleep when the country celebrated Diwali They sacrificed
in the fire of holi.
When we were sitting safe in our
homes. They confronted the deadly
bullets blessed were they those
young men blessed was their youth
those who attained
Martyrdom Remember their great sacrifice Sikhs, Jaat and Marathas Gurkhas and Madrasis
All those who died at the front
every dead warrior at the front everyone
Belongs to India The bloodshed on
That blood was India their bodies’ drenched blood they picked up their guns and each killed ten men,
then they fell unconscious and when the end came
They said “We are dying now “Be happy, beloved countrymen
“We are going our journey”
How wonderful were those warriors How great were those
Long live India long live the Indian
army long live India Long live India
By the time I write this article, Sri Lankan Singing Sensation, Yohani Diloka De Silva has broke all boundaries and records with her song “ Manike Maga Hithe” making Sri Lanka visible in Music world. Our neighbor, India embraced her as their own daughter, than in Sri Lanka.
We military parents always happy and delighted to see our children do so well in their lives. Her father, Major General Presanna De Silva (Retired) , much decorated War hero of our Nation who gave leadership to elite Sri Lanka Army Special Forces during difficult times and most crucial times of our history. I can still remember how he came to Trincomalee in a civilian lorry and demand he be airdropped with his Special Forces troops in July 1996, when late Colonel Fazly Laphir, the Commanding officer of SF was killed in battle field. True patriotism, velour, bravery and comradeship..
Credit should goes to Yohani daughter for her inspiring all military children with her achievements.
Her song dedicated to her farther brings tears to any military fathers with children fought our conflict against LTTE Terrorists. Dear daughter, all our children as young kids went through that fear, that one day father will die in battle field and bad news will reach home. I can imagine your fear as young girl. We wholeheartedly wish you all the success in future endeavors.
Ms Mamatha Benerjee, Chief Minister of Indian State of West Bengal from 2011, from All India Thinamoor Congress, fondly known as ‘Didi’ (elder sister in Bengal language) faced a “do or die” by election last week. Her achievements in West Bengal in 2011 no match because she defeated Communist party of India (Marxist) after 34 years of rule. This 66 year old Iron Lady is from Bengali Hindu Brahmin family with basic degrees on History, education and law and Masters degree on Islamic History. She was later honored with Doctorate of Literature (D. Litt. ) from Calcutta University.
Eve though her party won with large majority last State election, she lost her seat Nandigrram. Still. Party appoint her as Chief Minister. As per Indian Constitution, she should elected to State Assembly within six months. So , the by election of Didi from Bhabanipur was ‘must win’ by election for her to remain as Chief Minister. Six days ago, she won the seat with more than 58,300 votes.
|Yohani Diloka De Silva Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee West Bengal India|
What is important to us is, Didi’s party workers selected the music of Yohani’s “Manike Mage Hithe” dubbed in to Bengali words to sing the theme song of Didi. It widely broadcasts in by election campaign of Didi and crowds danced for the music and enjoyed. (Google for YouTube version of song).
This father-daughter duo has remixed the chartbuster into a tribute to Didi. We are so proud of you Yohani. Do not forget our ancestors came from West Bengal / Oriya. Prince Vijaya with his 700 followers in 7 ships (crics 543 – 505 BCE) from Karlingam Desha ( present day West Bangalore/Oriya) as per Mahawansa,, chronologically written history of our country. For me, your tour to India was to visit our relations. Do visit West Bengal and Oriya also in near future.
Dear Yohani, keep singing and reach greater heights. We are so proud of you. Most important thing is all these times you were introduced as “ General Presanna De Silva’s daughter”. Now you have changed it . In future, your father will be introduced as “Yohani’s father “ What a great achievement by young lady.
I wish same with my own son.
The writer retired from Sri Lanka Navy an served as Chief of Defence Staff