India's Republic Day, celebrated with grandeur every January 26th, is a momentous occasion that transcends mere historical commemoration. As the nation gathers to honor the adoption of its constitution in 1950, the day unfolds with an array of captivating events, showcasing the vibrancy of India's culture, the strength of its democracy, and the unity that binds its diverse populace.
Beyond the spectacular parades and cultural displays, Republic Day is steeped in fascinating facts that add depth to its significance. Let's embark on a journey through some intriguing aspects of India's Republic Day, unravelling the layers of history, tradition, and national pride that make this day truly exceptional.
India gained freedom on 15 August 1947, and soon after, work began on creating a constitution. The Constitution was approved on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, often called the Architect of the Indian Constitution, played a key role in its drafting. The decision to declare India a republic was made on 26 January, a significant date in 1929; on this day, the Indian National Congress declared complete freedom from British rule and proclaimed Purna Swaraj.
On 26 January 1950, India adopted a democratic government system, officially becoming a republic. To celebrate this important day, a big parade takes place along the Rajpath in New Delhi, starting from Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace). In the evening, there's a ceremony called 'Beating Retreat' to mark the occasion.
The 26 January 1950 was the first Republic Day of India. It was even more significant because Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, was starting his term.
On January 26, 1950, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India's first President, hoisted the National Flag, signifying the founding of the Indian Republic.
Each year, India invites a special guest to join the Republic Day celebrations. On the first Republic Day in 1950, President Sukarno of Indonesia was the first chief guest. Since then, it has become a tradition to invite a notable figure to participate in the Republic Day celebration.
The first Republic Day parade in 1950 took place at the Major Dhyan Chand stadium (previously Irwin Amphitheatre) and included 3,000 Indian military personnel along with 100 aircraft.
Initially, the Republic Day parade occurred at different spots like Irwin Stadium (now National Stadium), Kingsway, Red Fort, and Ramlila grounds from 1950 to 1954. Starting in 1955, the parade has been held at Rajpath. In 1955, Malik Ghulam Muhammad, Pakistan’s Governor General, was the chief guest at Rajpath's inauguration.
Prince Phillip of the United Kingdom attended the Republic Day celebration as the chief guest in 1959, while Queen Elizabeth was the chief guest in 1961.
The theme for this year's Republic Day is ‘India-Mother Of Democracy’, and ‘Viksit Bharat (Developed India)'. Republic Day 2024 will be India's 75th Republic Day.
This year, the parade will start with a special touch as 100 women artists playing Indian musical instruments lead the way. The music of Sankh, Naadswaram, Nagada, etc., played by these women artists, will mark the beginning of the parade. Additionally, a remarkable moment awaits as an all-women Tri-Service contingent marches down Kartavya Path for the first time during the parade.
In the previous year, the Republic Day celebrations included the presence of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. This year, French President Emmanuel Macron has been invited as the chief guest, marking the sixth time a French leader has received this honour.
The Beating Retreat Ceremony takes place annually on January 29 at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi, concluding the four-day Republic Day celebrations. It's a source of national pride where the Colors and Standards are paraded. The ceremony originated in the early 1950s, developed by Major Roberts of the Indian Army to showcase the massed bands.
'Beating Retreat' is rooted in a centuries-old military tradition when troops stopped fighting, sheathed their arms, left the battlefield, and returned to camps at sunset during the Retreat signal. During the ceremony, Colors and Standards are encased, and flags are lowered, evoking a sense of nostalgia for times past.
As the echoes of patriotic fervour subside and the tricolour gracefully flutters in the breeze, India's Republic Day leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of its citizens. Beyond the ceremonial splendour lies a rich tapestry of history and tradition, woven together by the ideals of democracy and unity. From the grandeur of the Rajpath parade to the cultural diversity showcased in the tableau, each element of Republic Day carries a unique story.
India's Republic Day is not merely a day on the calendar; it's a symphony of colours, cultures, and commitments that resonate through the very soul of the nation.