“I finally managed to wake up in time today to witness my moment of being a proud Republican,” said 28 year old Ankur Budhiraja barely able to contain his excitement, as he described his experience of watching the Republic Day parade live on Wednesday.
“January 26 meant just another holiday for me and I used to wake up late. Later in the day, I used to catch a few glimpses of the parade on TV and dismiss it as boring. But today I am a transformed man, I feel so proud of my country. I will come every year now,” added Budhiraja, a faculty member at New Delhi Institute of Management who was coaxed by his friend to come for the parade.
As India celebrated its 62nd Republic Day on Wednesday, a lot of youngsters in the Capital who watched the parade live for the first time woke up to a new sense of pride and achievement.
“A lot of my misconceptions were cleared today. I could never imagine the rush I saw in the morning, as people jostled with one another to grab a seat. I thought that no one except for the defence personnel families come to watch it,” said Sarika Singh, a class 9 student, brushing off the flower petals, showered by helicopters, from her hair.
For 16-year-old Karishma Agarwal it was an experience of a lifetime. “When we watch it at home on our television sets, we are always distracted and are detached from the events. When you watch it live, you are equally involved, it is as if we are one of the performers. People come from other parts of the country come to watch it and I rue the fact that I being from Delhi skipped it all this while. The experience is unparalleled, especially when the national anthem was played out, I felt so patriotic,” said Agarwal.
As the sun shone bright, various tableaus showcased the military might of the country along with its cultural and religious diversity. When the ministry of culture tableau with a lifesize figure of Rabindranath Tagore rolled in at Rajpath playing ‘Jodi tor dak shune...’, the Bengalis among the crowd joined in. The Lavani dancers of Maharastra, too, received loud applause and so did the schoolchildren who performed various folk dances.
But the floats, apart from being entertaining, also focussed on the need for conservation, be it the wildlife symbolised by floral figures of tigers in the CPWD tableaus or cultures such as the Bhand Pather, a traditional theatre performed in rural Kashmir, which is slowly dying.
The balancing skills of the daredevils and the flypast by the IAF that concluded the parade drew the loudest applause from the crowd. “It was breathtaking, watching them do the stunts was an honour,” said Purva Chawla, a IIIrd-year student of Delhi University who came for the sixth year to watch the parade.