When the contingent swings their hand in uniformity, when the commander gives the command on top of their voice, when the troop salutes in one swift motion – every Indian has his eyes filled with pride. There is no denying in the fact that Republic Day is one of those festivals that everyone looks forward to in their January festival list.
1. When & Why is Republic Day Celebrated?
Celebrated every year on 26th January, Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect in the year 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document. Many people are not aware of the fact that the Constitution of India was approved by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26th November in the year 1949 and it was on the 26th January 1950 that the Constitution came into effect, which led to India’s complete transition to an independent with a democratic government.
Another reason why 26th January was chosen as Republic Day is that it was on this day when the Indian National Congress proclaimed the Declaration of India’s Independence in 1929 from the dominion status that the British regime offered.
2. How is Republic Day Celebrated?
Republic Day is also known as Ganatranta Divas in India and is celebrated with a lot of josh especially in the country’s capital – Delhi. The state and its neighbouring NCR region is decorated in the colours of the Indian flag. Every moment during this time reflects the spirit of patriotism and pride. After all, India’s struggle towards being the beautiful country that she is, narrates a story of utmost courage. Republic Day celebration in India is an immense visual spectacle; it is not only the ministry that participates in the celebrations, but even schools, colleges, offices, and other such establishments across India participate with full fervour.
To mark the importance of Republic Day, a two-hour-long parade is organised by the Ministry of Defence in Delhi’s most elite place – the Rajpath. The aura on Republic Day at Rajpath is a vibe that must be experienced at least once in your lifetime. Many people visit Delhi especially to witness this grand celebration. That being said, nowadays you can also find Delhi tour packages online that are specially curated to ensure the Republic Day celebrations as a part of them. One of the doubts that many people have is from which location the Republic Day Parade starts. The answer to that is the Raisina Hills near the Rashtrapati Bhawan. It is a 5-kilometre route which the marching contingents and tableaus cover up to the Red Fort.
3. The initiation
Starting with the details of Republic Day celebrations, before the parade starts, the honourable Prime Minister of India along with the Defence Minister and all the three Chiefs of the Indian Armed Forces visit the Amar Jawan Jyoti to pay their tributes to the fallen soldiers who laid their life fighting and safeguarding the honour this country.
After this ceremony, they proceed towards Rajpath where the Republic Day Parade takes place. While this is taking place at the Rajpath, the honourable President of India, escorted by his Aide-de-Camp(s) (ADC) and President’s Bodyguards troop, sets forth on his journey towards the Rajpath to attend the Republic Day celebrations. Adding to this, a chief guest (President or Prime Minister) from the friendly countries also gets to witness the celebrations in all of their glory.
4. Segments of the Parade
After the arrival of the President of India, he along with the Prime Minister of India, the First Lady, and the Chief Guest is accompanied by two of his ADCs up to the dais where the sitting arrangements are made for them to witness the celebrations.
Before the Republic Day parade starts at Rajpath, the Indian Flag is unfurled by the President as the National Anthem is played with the Artillery Regiment of the Indian Army giving a 21-gun salute. Following this, the President awards the Kirti Chakra and Ashoka Chakra to the award recipients for their utmost bravery in the line of defence. This segment of the Republic Day celebrations is a little emotional as most of the recipients are awarded posthumously and are received by their family members.
Following this segment, children who have received the National Bravery Award for their exceptional courage ride past the Rajpath waving their little hello to the President and spectators seated there. This is followed by the most awaited segment of the Republic Day celebrations in India – March Past by the Indian Armed Forces. Along with the contingents of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy, you can also witness the marching contingents of the Border Security Force (BSF), Suraksha Seema Bal (SSB), Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), the Coast Guard, State Police Forces, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Cadet Corps (NCC), and the National Service Scheme (NSS). The commander-in-chief of each contingent commands on top of their voice as they salute the President of India, who is the Supreme Commander of the Forces.
Adding to this, the Indian Armed Forces showcases its various developments like missiles, radar systems, and so on to the spectators as they ride past the Rajpath in military convoy vehicles. After this, tableaus from different states and ministries put forth their best work and show to mesmerize the visitors. As the celebrations near its commemoration, children from different schools perform at Rajpath in front of the viewers, which is followed by one of the most amazing segments of the Rajpath Republic Day Parade are the bike stunts performed by the daredevil officers of the Indian Army and BSF.
Oh wait, you think that is it? Read the last line of the paragraph above, – it says one of the most amazing segments because the best one is not mentioned yet. Thinking of what that could be? It is, of course, the flypast by the Indian Air Force. Republic Day celebrations are incomplete without the jets flying in the sky in different formations. As the jets fly and disappear into the clouds, the spectators are left amazed.
5. Republic Day Parade Timings
Yet another important detail of Republic Day is the timing of the Republic Day Parade. Though the parade starts at 9:30 A.M, it is advisable that you reach the venue maximum by 8:00 A.M and be seated by 8:30 A.M as many of the roads around the Presidential Estate and Rajpath will be closed due to security reasons. The Ministry of Defence offers vehicle passes as well as bus facilities up to a particular point. However, you have to walk till the exact venue i.e. the Rajpath. Make sure that you have your Republic Day passes and ID cards handy to ensure a smooth security check. That said, have a look at your pass beforehand to check your gate number as they vary as per the priority of the passes.
6. Other Important Republic Day Details
Also, make sure that you don’t carry water bottles, food items, and any sharp items. Having said this, women visitors are advised not to carry any bags or purses. These were some of the most crucial Republic Day details that you must know, whether or not you are attending the parade.
The sale of tickets for Republic Day 2020 has begun from 7th January 2020 and will go on till 24th January 2020. You can get the passes from the North Block and South Block Campus, Sena Bhawan, Pragati Maidan, Jantar Mantar, and Defence HQs. The price of the passes varies from 100 to 500, with 500 being for the VIP ones. If you want the VVIP seats, you need to have contacts in the ministry or ask from the officers of the Armed Forces. That being said, if you want President’s Box passes, you can ask the ADCs or any of the President’s Staff to help you with that.
We were lucky enough to witness the Republic Day Parade on Rajpath last year i.e. 2019. The parade was par excellence. Every time the contingent commander commanded the troop to render a salute to the President, a sense of patriotism and pride came to the fore in each and every one of us!