14th July 2014 - Gateway of India resplendent in the Indo-French flag colours
France celebrates its National Day every year on 14th July.
Some people believe that the day of July 14th 1789 is celebrated when the people of Paris took over the Bastille prison - this is what our English speaking friends believe when they call it the Bastille day. Others believe that it is the commemoration of ‘la fête de la federation’ which happened on July 14th 1789 when King Louis the 16th gathered the National Guard regiments to celebrate the unity of the nation. But whatever it is, according to the French law, le 14 juillet; the 14th of July is the national day of France.
In Mumbai, the celebrations of the French National Day took on a special hue at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The iconic Gateway of India was resplendent in the Indo-French flag colours. As the Consul General of France in Bombay Mr. Jean-Raphaël Peytegnet put it, “What better symbol for the ever growing friendship and partnership between our two countries than the illumination of the iconic Gateway of India in the French and Indian tricolours on this special day?!” He went on to thank the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Maharashtra for making this happen. It is indeed a sign of Mumbai being a true international city open to foreign cultures.
This was also an occasion to commemorate the centenary of World War I. 80 nations, India being one of them, were a part of this very deadly conflict in human history. On 14th July this year, on the most beautiful avenue in the world, the Champs Elysées, an Indian battalion paraded shoulder to shoulder with its comrades coming from all over the world.
Among the invitees in Mumbai were Chief Protocol Officer and Secretary of Tourism Mr. Sumeet Mullick who graced the occasion as the Chief Guest of the evening. Others included Shobhaa De, Javed Akhtar, Kalki Kochlin, Cardinal Gracias. Needless to say the French cuisine, wine and cheese kept up the spirit of the evening.