Published: 14th August 2019
For Independence Day, this diver in Pondy hoisted the National Flag 60 feet under water
Looking at urging people to stop polluting the ocean through this flag-dive, SB Aravind is a major flag addict
Most people hoist the Indian national flag at office. Some do it in their gated communities. Others head to the parades and get their shot of patriotism on Independence Day.
SB Aravind is different. He did it sixty feet under. Under water, that is.
One of the best known diving instructors this side of the country, the founder of Temple Adventures, a Pondicherry-based diving school, decided to host a flag hoisting event that was right down his alley. "I have done this twice before but I decided that this Independence Day, I must do it properly underwater and use the attempt to draw attention to how polluted our ocean is," said Aravind, who trains several youngsters in diving. The flag, he told us, was a normal one and stood the force of the current quite well.
Aravind and his photographer headed 5 kilometres off the coast of Pondicherry and dove straight in till they hit the ocean floor. "I had the flag folded with me till I reached the bottom, only then did I take it out and let it unfurl in the current. It looked splendid under water," he recalled with a smile. Luckily for him, the water was cleared than usual today because of the rains. "It's usually so full of plastic covers, the water packets people use, slippers and what not... It's really, really sad to see how people treat the oceans," he lamented.
Aravind, who also runs an NGO called Temple Reef Foundation, hopes that this flag hoisting attempt will open people's eyes to the fact that they need to keep the ocean as clean as they would keep the area where the flag would be on solid ground, "There is a lot of reverence and respect for the flag when it is on ground, but people don't seem to think that the ocean is also part of India. By planting the flag here, I just want to show people that this ocean floor is also theirs and they should preserve it the same way," he explained.
The diver swam around the ocean floor "among the fishes" with the tricolour before he tied it to the reef so that he could click his heels together and salute the flag. Did he try singing the national anthem, we joked? The answer was a gurgled grin. In all, he stayed under for a solid thirty minutes before he broke the surface.
Incidentally, Aravind is a bit of a self-confessed national flag junkie. Every shirt that he buys, he gets his sister to embroider the national flag on the sleeve so that it's always on him, "You will not believe it, but I have some twenty new tees at home that I haven't started wearing because I haven't gotten around to getting the flag woven on it," he joked.