Republic Day (India)
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|Soldiers of the Madras Regiment during the annual Republic Day Parade in 2004|
|Celebrations||Military parades, distribution of sweets in schools and cultural programmes|
The Republic Day of India is a national holiday of India to mark the transition of India from a British Dominion to a republic on January 26, 1950 and the adoption of the Constitution of India. It is one of the three national holidays in India. This is not to be confused with the Independence Day on August 15th.
 1 History
Although India obtained its independence on August 15, 1947, the Constitution of India came into effect only on January 26, 1950. During the transition period from 1947 to 1950, King George VI was the head of country. C. Rajagopalachari served as the Governor-General of India during this period. Following January 26, 1950, Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of India.
 2 Celebrations
To mark the importance of this occasion, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Palace), along the Rajpath, past India Gate and on to the historic Red Fort. The different regiments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. The parade also includes vibrant displays and floats and traditionally ends with a flypast by Indian Air Force jets.
Celebrations, though on a much smaller scale, are also held in state capitals, where the governor of the state unfurls the national flag. If the Governor of the state is unwell, or is unavailable for some reason, the Chief Minister of the state assumes the honor of unfurling the National Flag of India.
Indians had long been agitating for independence from Britain. But following the landslide victory of Britain’s Labour Party in July 1945, the then Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, urged an end to our long struggle for independence. He wanted the Indians to establish a political assembly that would create for the people of India a constitution of their own making. The stated goal of the constitution team which was headed by Dr Rajindra Prasad was: “to secure for all” of India’s citizens “social, economic and political” justice; to establish “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; to establish “equality of status and opportunity;” and to promote among all citizens a “fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity of the Nation.”
Once we achieved our freedom this day now reflects the journey of India from a colonized country to an independent republic as India became formally independent from the United Kingdom on August 15, 1947, however, the country remained a Commonwealth realm, and continued in a personal union relationship with the other countries who each regarded the same person as their monarch and Head of State. The Monarch of India was represented by the Governor-General of India, appointed by the Monarch of the United Kingdom upon the advice of the Prime Minister of India, instead of the British government, till India’s parliament worked through the creation of its own constitution which was passed by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 19 49 and then the Constitution was formally adopted on January 26, 1950.
On this day when the constitution took effect, the Governor General was replaced by an elected president, with Dr. Rajendra Prasad serving as the first President of India. The move ended India’s status as a Commonwealth realm, but the republic remained in the Commonwealth of Nations. But our Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India argued that a nation should be allowed to stay in the Commonwealth simply by observing the British monarch as “Head of the Commonwealth” but not necessarily head of state. This was a ground-breaking decision that would set a precedent in the second half of the twentieth century for many other former British colonies to remain in the Commonwealth after becoming newly-independent republics.
India was then a federated nation and a union of states. More than 275 principalities had to be merged into new states and after merging these princely states, India became a truly sovereign state. On this day, 26th Jan a date of symbolic importance as it was on January 26, 1930, that the Congress Party had first issued the call for complete independence from Britain. Thus 26th January is one of the most important days in the Indian history. Indeed our past glory has come back after we gained independence and India has once again become a land of hope and immense possibilities, as we have risen like the phoenix, the symbol of death and resurrection, showing our civilized strength and a will to prove our Bhagavad Gita’s message — that wherever there is dharma (righteousness), there is victory — true. The story of India’s recent progress is a saga of peoples’ power, determination and a will to move ahead as enshrined in our constitution a constitution, which perhaps is the longest written document of any independent nation in the world.
Republic Day, January 26, is celebrated most grandly in New Delhi, where symbols of the great nation’s military might and cultural wealth are displayed in what must be world’s most impressive parade. All Government buildings are dramatically illuminated lending the business like city the atmosphere of a fairyland. This Day is celebrated with zeal and pride all over the country. To honour the occasion, a grand parade is held in the National Capital New Delhi. Different regiments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, march from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, along the Rajpath New Delhi’s broad parade avenue and reach the India Gate and then move towards old Delhi.
However the beginning of this day is always a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of the martyrs who died for the country in the freedom movement and the succeeding wars for the defence of sovereignty of our country. The Prime Minster of India and three chiefs of Army, Navy and Air force salute these brave persons at India Gate (Amar Jyoti) a memorial arch honouring members of the Indian armies before the start of the parade. Patriotic fervour national pride and ardent devotion fills the heart of every Indian with these emotions.
President of India, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute at the grand parade and later awards the medals of bravery to the people from the armed forces for their exceptional courage in the field and also the civilians, who have distinguished themselves by their different acts of valour in different situations. The richly caparisoned elephants proceed down the Rajpath, bearing musicians as well as citizens being honoured for personal courage. The patriotic fervour of the people on this day brings the whole country together. Every part of the country is represented in occasion as the parade is followed by spectacular displays from the different states of the country. These moving exhibits depict scenes of activities of people in those states and the music and songs of that particular state accompany each display. Each display brings out the diversity and richness of the culture of India and the whole show lends a festive air to the occasion. N.C.C cadets, selected from all over the country consider it an honour to participate in this event, as do the school children from various schools in the capital. They spend many days preparing for the event and practice for the drills, the essential props and their uniforms.
Over half a million people, young and old, throng the parade ground very early in the morning and take vantage points along the path that follows the parade some carrying with them the national flags. The orange, white and green Indian flag flies all along the route. The parade and the ensuing pageantry are telecasted live and are watched by millions of viewers in every corner of the country and the world over.
Dignitaries from various foreign embassies/ commissions in India are invited to witness this day who eagerly participate in full strength as each state depicts its unique festivals, historical locations and art forms. The displays from all the states are meant to promote the feelings of brotherhood, harmony and unity among the citizens. The festivities also include colourful performances by school children from across the Country. The most eagerly awaited part of the Republic Day parade is the spectacular fly past, put on by the Indian Air Force. Roaring past the dais, the Indian Air Force planes symbolically salute the President. Republic Day is celebrated with the same ardour and passion throughout the country in the state capitals as well, where the governor of the state unfurls the national flag. The annual Beating of the Retreat ceremony ending the Republic Day celebrations start in the evening on 29th when ranks of Indian bagpipers march in procession and noble Bikaner Camel Corps stands at attention on the ramparts, silhouetted against the setting sun. The patriotic fervour of the people on this day brings the whole country together even in her essential diversity a every part of the country is represented in occasion, which makes the Republic Day the most popular of all the national holidays of India. It is definitely a matter of pride and honour for all of us that we are free, not chained by anyone. The world is now equally amazed at the gradual emergence of India as an economic super power. The country has done it despite numerous problems. It has a huge population. Moreover, it is an intensely multi-ethnic and multi-religious society with divisions and sub-divisions down the line. The unity of our nation is not based on any monolithic idea but on our age-old tradition of tolerance which is at once a pragmatic concept of living together and a philosophic concept of finding truth and goodness in every religion.
Kanayalal Raina Brampton, Canada
 3 Republic Day Parade
The Republic Day Parade is an annual military and cultural parade held in the Indian Capital of New Delhi on 26 January, the Republic Day of India. Republic Day is celebrated with the hoisting of the national flag, and parades by the armed forces and school children all over the country. The largest, and most important, of these parades takes place in New Delhi, and the phrase “Republic Day Parade” generally refers to the parade in New Delhi.
Before the parade starts, the Prime Minister of India lays a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, commemorating all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country. The President, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, then arrives in his motorcade, escorted by his bodyguards. The President is accompanied by a notable foreign Head of State – who is the Chief Guest at the celebration. The President presides over the function. Soon afterward, a 21 gun salute is presented, the President unfurls the National Flag and the National Anthem is played. This marks the beginning of the parade.
The Parade begins with winners of gallantry awards passing the President in open jeeps. Various divisions of the Armed Forces then salute the President of India. The parade also sees the Indian Military showcasing its latest acquisitions such as tanks, missiles, radars, etc.
The military contingent contains representatives of all three divisions of the Armed Forces (air, sea and land). There are also massive parades of Police contingents, Home guards , Civil Defense and the National Cadet Corps.
The military parade is followed by a colourful cultural parade. India’s rich cultural heritage is paraded with tableaux from various states. Each state depicts its unique festivals, historical locations and art forms. The most cheered section of the parade is the children who have won National Bravery Awards. They ride past the dais on elephants. School-children from all over the country also participate in the parade. The parade also includes displays of skillful motor-cycle riding, usually by a division from one of the Armed Forces.
The most eagerly awaited part of the parade is the fly past, put on by the Indian Air Force. The parade concludes with a Fly Past, when fighter planes of the IAF roar past the dais, symbolically saluting the President.
The processions starts by moving down from the Rashtrapati Bhavan through Rajpath, past the India Gate and on to Con naught Place, the heart of the city, to enter the historic Red Fort. The crowds sit on either side of the route and the VIP enclosure is on the Southern flank of Rajpath, near India Gate.