The rehearsal went off with clock-work precision on Saturday. But as officials prepare for the swearing-in ceremony for the next president this Wednesday, there is just one small worry: What if it rains?
The president-elect will be sworn in at Parliament’s Central Hall, but there is more to the ceremony than just the oath of office administered by the Chief Justice of India.
“We are really hoping it doesn’t rain on Wednesday and have asked the metrological department to keep us posted about the weather,” a senior official overseeing the arrangements told HT.
So far, the meteorological department is sticking to its forecast of light rain or thundershowers that day.
“If it rains, the first casualty would be the guard of honour and the ‘thousand salute’ — 1,000 soldiers lined up along Raisina Hill from Rashtrapati Bhavan to Parliament House to salute the outgoing president, the supreme commander of the armed forces, and then the new one,” the official said.
“I guess this is one problem that even he can’t solve without help from the rain gods,” joked another official, referring to presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee’s reputation as the UPA’s troubleshooter.
He recalled how a similar forecast had officials on tenterhooks during APJ Abdul Kalam’s swearing-in ceremony. “It did drizzle as he was taking the guard of honour salute, but Kalam was not one to stop,” the official said.
The ceremonies will take about two hours in all and involve 48 horses — the only ones in the army permitted to wear full manes — of the Presidential Bodyguards, with six officers and 42 riders.
The rains could also dampen the one-minute ride in the ceremonial buggi – a carriage drawn by six horses – within Rashtrapati Bhavan shortly before the new President sees off the former President.
A get-together planned after the swearing-in might also have to be moved into the Darbar Hall.