National Flag hoisting is one of the proud moments for a citizen of any country. The same is the case with all Indians. The National Flag unfurls on special occasions that has a lot of significance. In India, no occasion can be as significant as the Republic Day! None other than the President of India unfurls the National Flag of India on 26th January every year, amidst massive celebration marking the Republic Day of India! Republic Day is one of the three major National Holidays of India, just as important as the other two, namely, the Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.
This year, 26 January 2017, marks the celebration of 68th Republic Day of India.
What does Republic Day of India mean?
Simply stated, Republic Day of India is celebrated to honor the date on which the Constitution of India came into force. This was on 26th January 1950. Till then, the Government of India Act of 1935 was the governing document of India. The first Republic Day of India marks the replacement of this document by the Constitution of India.
Republic Day is the national celebration that commemorates many significant aspects related to Indian Independence. Similar to the Independence Day of India, this day shares great significance in the Indian History. Indian constitution came into existence three years after Independence that was won in 1947.
Indian Constituent Assembly adopted the Indian Constitution on 26th November 1949 and it came into effect on 26 January 1950.
Why January 26 was selected as Republic Day
In the year 1930, Indian National Congress proclaimed the Declaration of Indian Independence or Purna Swaraj (Complete Independence.) Purna Swaraj was proclaimed on this date of 26th January in 1930. It was the day, the National leaders planted the seed for the Independence, they symbolically declared ‘Poorna Swaraj’ from British Colonial rule.
The anniversary of Purna Swaraj i.e. 26th January was unanimously adopted as the Republic Day of India.
Some Interesting Facts about Republic Day of India
- The first Republic Day celebration was held on 26th January 1950.
- Republic Day celebrations last for 3 days. The celebration ends on 29th January every year with the ‘Beating Retreat’ held Vijay Chowk where bands of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy perform.
- Republic Day Parade is one of the fascinating parts of the celebration. However, the Republic Day Parade began only from the year 1955.
- ‘Abide with Me’ is one of the Christian songs, played in the evening of 29th January, towards the end of the Republic Day celebrations. It is believed that this song was one of the favorites of Mahatma Gandhi. While various foreign songs have ceased to play during the Beating Retreat ceremony to give place to other Indian songs, this favorite song of Mahatma Gandhi still finds place.
- The constitution of India is the longest written constitution in the world and it has 448 articles. Originally it had 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules. Now the Constitution of India contains 448 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 98 amendments.
- It took about 2 years 11 months and 18 days, (almost 3 years) to complete the initial draft of the Constitution under the guidance of Dr. B R Ambedkar who was the chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
- This day brims with more colors and a festive mood, beyond the typical celebrations. This is the special day when national awards including bravery awards and awards for selfless sacrifices are given to civilians as well as Forces. Padma awards, Bharat Ratna, police awards and awards to children for brave deeds etc. are the highlights of Republic Day celebration.
- When the Constituent Assembly met to sign the Constitution of India on January 24, 1950, President Rajendra Prasad officially declared Jana Gana Mana as the national anthem and Vande Mataram as the national song of India. Rabindranath Tagore is the author of the National Anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana!’ It was originally written in Bengali and later transformed into Hindi by Abid Ali in the year 1911. However, this song was officially declared as Indian National Anthem, only in the year 1950, the year of first Republic Day of India.
- Rajendra Prasad was the first Indian President. He took oath as the President of India on 26th January 1950.
Republic Day Celebrations
Republic Day is celebrated all over the country. Although it is a National Holiday, all educational institutions, from primary schools to colleges and training centers celebrate the Republic Day.
Republic Day Celebration in Delhi
The main celebration of the Republic Day, an epic celebration, takes place in New Delhi, the capital of India.
Ceremonious Parade at Rajpath, Delhi
Republic Day Parade in Delhi is the most special event. A lot of parades take place at Rajpath, in front of the President of India, paying tribute to the country.
Rajpath is a boulevard that runs from the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Rasinia Hills) to the Delhi National Stadium, at the India Gate. Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official residence of the President of India.
Trees, plants, lawn and small canals decorate the avenue and act as beautiful borders to the boulevard. Every year on 26th January, the massive, colorful and ceremonious parades take place on this road.
The actual celebrations showcase the cultural diversity, charm and beauty of the Republic India as well as the spirit of the Indian Army.
Tribute to the Martyrs
The celebration begins with paying a tribute to and honoring the soldiers who sacrificed the life for the country. The Prime Minister of India lays a floral wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti, located at India Gate. After laying the wreath, a two minute silence is observed to commemorate the martyrs.
After this event, Prime Minister joins the other dignitaries for the Republic Day parade. Subsequently, the President arrives with the Chief Guest, who usually is the Head of the State from another country.
The first event on Republic Day is Flag Hoisting. As the National Anthem plays, President unfurls the flag. A National Salute, with 21-gun salute is given to the President.
Before the parade of the Armed Forces begin, the President gives away the most prestigious awards, Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra. These medals are given to appreciate the bravery of the armed personnel as well as civilians, which highlights their act of bravery in various situations. Children are also entitled to receive the National Bravery Award. Children who receive this award ride on a beautifully decorated elephant or a vehicle.
Parade of the Armed Forces of the Indian National Army
Award ceremony is followed by the military parade. The President of India takes salute from military. Around 9 to 12 different regiments of the Indian National Army take part in the parade. Representatives of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Air Force take part in the initial ceremonious parades, which is followed by other troupes. The President of India is the commander in chief of the Indian Army and he / she takes the salute from the army parade.
- In addition to the major regiments, para-military forces, civil forces, Border Security Force, NCC cadets, etc. also take part in the parade.
- Border Security Force is the one and the only camel mounted military force in the world. The parade of the BSF is quite unique as they march on the camel.
Parade of the NCC Cadets
Qualified NCC cadets from all over the country are selected to take part in the parade. Getting selected for the Republic Day Parade is one of the proud moments for these school children. They undergo a lot of training, preparations and practice to take part in the parade.
NCC Cadets parade quintessentially portrays the cultural diversity of the country. Different floats are carried by the cadets which displays the diversified culture of the Indian States and the Union Territories. Besides, cultural dances also form part of the parade. Around 1200 school children perform the cultural dances as a part of the Republic Day celebration.
At the same time, Governors of the respective states also take military salutes in the respective state capitals.
Armed Forces Air-Show
After the parade, armed forces fly in the helicopters and shower rose petals on the visitors present at the Rajpath for Republic day celebrations. It is followed by motorcycle rides. Then come fighter planes, saluting the president as they fly past the dais. In addition, they also conduct a flying parade, which leaves the smoke in tricolor that signifies the Indian flag. This event marks the end of the Republic Day celebration for the day.
The parade is telecast live on televisions.
Being one of the most magnificent parades, Republic Day parade in Delhi represents every part of the country.
Republic Day Celebration at other places
In addition to the Republic Day Parade in Delhi, the whole country celebrates the Republic Day at their respective places.
The camps, branches and divisions of the armed forces in other parts of India also conduct parades and cultural programs.
Beating Retreat – The End of Republic Day Celebration
Republic Day celebration officially comes to an end on 29th January. In the evening, three wings of armed personnel from Indian Army, Navy and Air Force respectively perform the bands at Rajpath.
Again, the President of India arrives to the function and receives Salute from the Forces as the President of India is also the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. It is followed by playing of National Anthem, military bands, drums, trumpets and pipe instruments by the different regiments of the armed forces.
This is followed by the bugle call for Sunset by the buglers. All the flags are slowly brought down and the band master marches to the President to get permission to take the bands away. He informs the President that the closing ceremony is now complete. The bands then march back while playing the popular martial tune of the Armed Forces, ‘Saare Jahan Se Achcha, Hindostan hamara!’
The Rashtrapati Bhavan and the North and South Blocks of the Parliament of India are illuminated spectacularly. This makes the occasion a grand one to be experienced!
This marks the end of the three days celebration of Republic Day of India!