The Republic Day parade is a celebration of the formation of the Indian republic. It is a secular festival to remind the people of India of our freedom struggle and our transformation into an independent, secular, democratic republic.
The world had given us less than ten years before we fell apart. It is a measure of the vision, foresight and sagacity to craft a Constitution that has held India together despite the centrifugal tendencies of the early years. The separate and distinct cultures have intertwined and made us into one nation with many distinctions.
The parade is an annual celebration of all this. To many like me, it is a festival more important than any of the religious ones which are celebrated at the personal, family, and neighbourhood community levels.
308 assembly members signed two copies of Indian constitution on 24th Jan 1950 and after two days i.e. 26th January 1950 the constitution came into effect throughout the nation and is declared as Republic Day. There after we started celebrating Republic Day. Since, 1950 the current structure of the republic day celebration i.e. Parade started when it first performed successfully at Rajpath. The soul purpose of the parade is to give a national salute by the cavalry and other departments. Slowly slowly it modifies into various fancy tableaux of Indian states and and other public sector units of Indian government.
On Republic Day, flag hoisting ceremonies and parades by armed forces and school children are held in different parts of the country. The grandest and most important of these parades is held at Rajpath in New Delhi, which showcases a multi-hued image of the country’s rich cultural heritage and military prowess.
This parade is presided over by the President of India . One of the main functions of the Republic Day Parade is to pay tribute to the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the country and to confer bravery awards on military persons, citizenry and children for showing courage in the face of adversity.
The Prime Minister of India first lays a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, in memory of all members of the armed forces who gave up their life for the country. After that there is the 21 gun salute, unfurling of the National Flag and singing of the National Anthem. Next, awards such as the Paramvir Chakra, Ashok Chakra and Vir Chakra are presented to gallantry award winners.
The parade begins with winners of gallantry awards saluting the President in open military jeeps, followed by the display of various tanks, missiles and other equipment added to the arsenal of the military. After this, is the march-past of different regiments of the armed forces, police, Home Guards and National Cadet Corps. The President of India, being the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. This is followed by a vibrant parade comprising tableaux from different States and cultural dances by patriotic school children.
Children who have won National Bravery Awards ride past the spectators on colourfully decorated elephants. These children are honoured and awarded by the Indian Council for Child Welfare for performing outstanding deeds of bravery and selfless sacrifice.
The Republic Day Parade is concluded by dare devil motor cycle riding and a flypast by Indian Air Force fighter jets over Rajpath, as spectators look on with their hearts filled with pride.
Salute To The Legends
January 30 is marked as Martyrs Day , to honour and pay homage to those martyrs who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom, welfare and progress of our beloved country. It was on January 30, 1948 when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. And, since then every year the nation pays homage to the Mahatma and other martyrs on this day.
The President , the Vice President , the Prime Minister , the Defence Minister, and the three service Chiefs gather at Rajghat and lay wreaths on the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi, decorated with multi-colour flowers. The inter-services contingent reverses arms as a mark of respect to the martyrs. A religious prayer ceremony is held and Gandhiji’s favourite bhajans are sung.
Beating Retreat Ceremony
The ceremony at the Vijay Chowk on January 29 every year marks the culmination of the four-day-long Republic Day celebrations. The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India who arrives in a cavalry unit escorted by the ‘President’s Bodyguards’ (PBG). When the President arrives, the PBG commander asks the unit to give the National Salute, which is followed by the playing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by the Massed Bands, and at the same time by the unfurling of the National Flag of India on the flagpole. Military Bands, Pipes and Drums Bands, Buglers and Trumpeters from various Army Regiments perform during the ceremony. Besides, there are bands from each of the Navy and Air Force. Most of the tunes being played by the Army’s Military Bands are based on Indian tunes.
‘Beating the Retreat’ has emerged as an event of national pride when the Colours and Standards are paraded. The ceremony traces its origin to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army indigenously developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands. ‘Beating Retreat’ marks a centuries old military tradition, when the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield and returned to the camps at sunset at the sounding of the Retreat. Colours and Standards are cased and flags lowered. The ceremony creates longing for the times gone by.
The grandest celebrations take place in New Delhi with the flag hoisting ceremony followed by a parade, showcasing India’s rich cultural heritage and military prowess.