15th August 1947 brought the long-awaited independence to the people of India. However, soon enough, lakhs of people lost their homes, identity, and lives because of the barbarous and the most unfortunate mass migration.
Lord Mountbatten meets Nehru, Jinnah and other Leaders to plan Partition of India.
The independence of India from the 200 years of British rule did not come easy or without sacrifices. After years of rebellion put up by the fierce people of the country, India lost close to two million of its people. The partition left a scar not just on the map but in the minds of the people of both India and Pakistan.
As the chaos of the partition erupted, people in Punjab and Sindh were forced to abandon their houses and flee. They had to take as little with them as possible to make it to safety. These objects were not simple artifacts but things with painful memories attached to them. The memories of their lost houses, their lost lives.
Overcrowded train transferring refugees during the partition of India, 1947. This was considered to be the largest migration in human history.
Although the subject of partition has been mentioned in myriad ways through movies, books, and other media, there never was a physical place where one could find peace to honor the deceased and the sufferers.
The Yadgar-e-Taqseem or Memories of Partition is the name of the museum that was first thought of by Kishwar Desai, a writer, and former media professional. The museum’s sole purpose is to narrate the stories of the people who have suffered because of the partition or whose previous generation was.
The artifacts in the museum not only depict the archives of the period of the independence movement and the partition but also the artifacts generously donated by the partition survivors. The chaos of the situation and the realization that they would have to leave their homes forever made it impossible for people to pack all their belongings. The artifacts received by the Partition Museum include things that were taken by people in the emergency of the situation. From utensils, trunks, clothes, to a wedding sari, a jewellery box, and a tin box, the Partition Museum houses items belonging to people from diverse and different backgrounds at the time of the Partition.
Partition Museum by Gursharan Singh (Wikimedia Commons)
The artworks displayed in the museum belong to the artists of the period who often found their works influenced by the horrors of the partition. Their art represented the voids in their hearts, the pain in their souls. Artists like S.L.Parasher, who worked in the refugee camps, have lingering effects of what he witnessed in his sketches. Arpana Caur’s paintings have always depicted isolation or search for a home. One of her paintings, named ‘1947’ is a very accurate and painful depiction of the year 1947, which brought India, not only its well-earned freedom but also the pain of ripping into two.
One must visit the Partition Museum in Amritsar to understand and recognize the price and the value of freedom we Indians enjoy seventy-five years hence. The Museum also documents a multimedia experience—through audio-visual stations set across the 14 galleries—those whose voices have been silenced in the pages of history. There are more than 100 interviews of the partition victims and their families currently playing in the Museum.
The Partition of India in 1947 resulted in one of the largest mass migrations in human history, with some 12-18 million people directly impacted. Through multiple mediums such as video recordings, photographs of refugee camps, personal belongings of the refugees, art created with the theme of partition, etc. the Museum creates an unforgettable experience for the visitors.
As Indians, we must visit the museum as an ode to the brave freedom fighters and the millions of people who sacrificed their lives in the chaos of partition. The Partition Museum is the only museum in the world that stands as a memorial of the partition of a country. It is not only the pride of India but also a painful reminder of the sacrifices endured by millions of people then so that we could live independently now.
Aayushi Wadale and Shailaja Sarangi