Celebrating St. George's Day in the Anglo-Indian Community
Happy St. George's Day!
St. George's Day, also known as The Feast of St. George, or Old Boys' Day, is a holiday commemorating the death of the patron St. George, who is considered to have been one of the most prominent saints in existence. Executed by the Roman army in the year 303 A.D. when refusing to disassociate himself from his faith, St. George has been revered and celebrated as part tradition as well as legend. Of course, there is documentation on the many works of St. George, but he is also associated with the infamous tale of lore "St. George and the Dragon," a tale of bravery and whimsy not unlike the stories of fictitious King Arthur.
Though mainly a holiday of the Catholic church on April 23rd, many Anglican as well as cultural groups throughout the world have long celebrated the tradition in the UK, Europe at large, and many other geographical locations bearing English roots.
St. George's School in Chennai, India
While it might be a surprise to some, St. George's Day is an especially prominent holiday for alumni, students, and the community of Chennai, India, because of their landmark school of St. George's Military Male Orphan Asylum (or, more commonly, St. George's School). Founded in 1715, the school bears the distinction as being the oldest school in India, as well as one of the oldest in the world, and is celebrating its 300th anniversary at the time of this writing. As an English-speaking school, it has long been a place where the British and other non-Indian groups as well as Indians have chosen to send their children for boarding and day school education.
Once ruled by the British, India was home to a vast group of European and other nationalities who were all there for various reasons. Some were traders, others missionaries, and many more were military personnel. These people intermarried with Indians, creating the Anglo-Indian subculture. Since their children were raised to embrace their Anglican ancestry, they were considered ideal workers to be put in charge at schools and businesses where English was spoken and/or taught. St. George's School in Chennai, then, became a significant fixture during this time.
A Look at St. George's School Today
Celebrating St. George's Day
Each year, former students, staff, and their friends attend St. George's Day celebrations held at on the school's grounds. The event cooincides with their OSA (Old Students Association) gathering and also serves as their day for electing new board members. During festivities, the full day starts out with breakfast for all, followed by outdoor games, and then a church service at their chapel in St. Mary's church. After lunch, there are more outdoor activities, tea time, and finally a dance to conclude the evening.
For more information about St. George's School: http://www.thehindu.com/arts/survivors-of-time-the-bell-still-tolls/article2221434.ece