Republic Day Celebrations In India
The first National Holiday celebrated in India every year, is Republic Day and this day occurs every 26th of January. Republic Day is a gazetted holiday in India and all National, State and local government offices, post-offices and banks are closed on this day.
This day is revered and given prime importance in the country, because it was on this day in the year 1950 that the Constitution of India came into effect as the governing document for India. Even though India attained independence in the year 1947, the British Monarch King George VI was still officially India’s Head of State and the country did not have a permanent constitution, instead it’s laws were based on the modified colonial Government Of India Act 1935. Towards the end of August 1947, a Drafting Committee was appointed to draft the permanent constitution for the country, with Dr.B.R.Ambedkar as its Chairman. Though the constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly in November 1949, it came into effect on 26th Jan 1950 with a democratic government system, thus making India an independent republic.
Republic Day celebrations are held all over India in important institutions, government buildings, residential societies, schools and colleges. The main celebration is held at Rajpath, in the national capital, New Delhi, before the President of India. This celebration is carried over three days and starts with the grand Republic Day Parade which showcases India’s rich cultural heritage, defense capability and unique diversity. However, the President addresses the nation on the eve of Republic Day and this is web telecasted on 25th January.
Before the parade, the Prime Minister visits the Memorial for fallen soldiers, Amar Jyoti Jawan and lays a floral wreath in their memory. This is followed by a two minute silence in their memory and is a heart-felt reminder of the sacrifice made by our brave soldiers, who died fighting for the freedom of their country and in successive wars and battles. After this, the Prime Minister joins the other dignitaries at Rajpath. Finally, the President arrives along with the State Guest Of Honour for the occasion and the proceedings begin. This State Guest of Honour is chosen from a country, keeping in mind the current strategic, economic and political interests of our country.
The Republic Day parade begins with the national flag being unfurled by the President as the National Anthem is played and a 21 gun salute is given as the PBG renders the National Salute. Then several prestigious awards like the Ashok Chakra, Param Veer Chakra, Kirti Chakra and other Bravery Awards are given away. Thereafter, the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force march past with their bands in full attire and official decorations. Besides several other contingents marching past, one can also enjoy the various colourful and creative floats show-casing the culture and uniqueness of the various states and union territories of India. Several school students and NCC cadets from across the country participate too, with the students presenting various cultural dances. The parade ends with a dare-devil motor cycle show by the Armed Forces, an air show by the Indian Air Force and helicopters carrying the national flag along with the flags of the three services.
A whole lot of preparation, coordination and practice goes into making this parade and celebration special and a complete dress rehearsal parade is also organised before the actual day to ensure everything is as per design and schedule. The Republic Day parade is telecast live on the public service broadcaster, Doordarshan and on the other various television channels. This celebration finally ends with the ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony on 29th January evening, which is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military ie. army, air force and navy. It is indeed a grand spectacle to watch all the bands play their trumpets, drums, bugles and pipes and hear them perform various tunes like ‘Abide with me’ and other patriotic songs.
The general public or local citizens also have their own little celebrations,where housing societies, schools and some institutions unfurl the Indian flag, play patriotic songs, distribute sweets and organise small functions like fests,cultural shows, sports competitions, painting competition etc.
This day is meant to remind us of our strength and unity in diversity and pledge our commitment and loyalty to our country.
JAI HIND !
Picture Credits: U.S – Wall Street Journal, Rediff.Com