US President Barrack Obama gave the thumbs up and First Lady Michelle clapped in appreciation as multi-hued images of India’s rich cultural diversity unfolded on a rain-soaked Rajpath during the 66th Republic Day celebrations on Monday.
The nearly two-hour-long parade showcased 25 colourful tableaux representing India’s unity in diversity as also signifying the vision of the future India in the social, economic and industrials sectors.
While 16 of the tableaux belonging to the states and the Union Territories represented the cultural and architectural wealth of the country, the remaining nine were from various central ministries and departments themed on ‘Ma Ganga’ to ‘yoga’ among others.
Karnataka’s was the first float to roll out on the majestic Rajpath displaying the colourful Channapatna wooden toys, followed by Andhra Pradesh which showcased the ‘makar sankranti’ festivities.
Incredible Majuli was the theme of the Assam float, displaying the vibrant and multicoloured culture of the river island’s ethnic inhabitants belonging to Mising, Deori, and Sonowal Kachari communities.
Uttar Pradesh came up with a tableau on Wajid Ali Shah, the tenth and last Nawab of Awadh province that is the Uttar Pradesh of present time. UP displayed the theme of communal harmony.
While Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Modi, showcased the ambitious project of building the ‘Statue of Unity’ symbolically represented by that of Sardar Vallabhahi Patel and the Sardar Sarovar Yojana, the southern state charmed everyone especially the kids with its tableau, huge scale-model, fashioned on the famed wooden toys of Channapatna, located in the outskirts of Bengaluru.
New-born state Telangana, making its Republic Day debut showcased its illustrious festival ‘Bonalu’, celebrated to worship Mahakali goddess in the month of Ashada.
For Jammu and Kashmir, the dazzling beauty of the region was displayed through Rouff dance of Kashmir, flower dance of Ladakh and Kud dance of Jammu regions.
Haryana made its presence through its Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, famous for hosting migratory birds from Europe, Siberia and central Asia.
Maharashtra presented the 'Wari (pilgrimage) to Pandharpur' as its theme while Goa showcased the industry of fishing.
Madhya Pradesh showcased Bhagoria, festival of love and matchmaking, Uttarakhand showcased the Kedarnath Temple, Jharkhand its terracotta temples in Maluti, Sikkim its cardamom cultivation and Chhattisgarh the Dussehra festival of Bastar.
Igu dance or dance of the priest, of the Idu Mishmi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh was the theme of the float from the state.
A massive mechanised lion made out of gear-tooth wheels, symbolic of the government's ‘Make in India’ policy and a mock-up of a high-speed bullet train drew cheers from the crowd as they rolled down the majestic avenue.
Besides, the tableaux for ‘Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana’ helmed by the department of financial services, the ministry of women and child development-led exhibit featuring live performances by women themed on ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ campaign also won many hearts.
Navy’s march to self-reliance and indigenisation was showcased by the models of indigenously constructed destroyer INS Kolkata launching a BrahMos missile with the Advanced Light Helicopter ‘Dhruv’ in the background.
The second Naval tableau, titled ‘Bharatiya Nau Sena aur Nari Shakti’, represented the four Indian Navy women officers who braved vagaries of the seas and participated in an ocean voyage from Goa to Rio-de-Janeiro in Brazil on board Indian naval vessel ‘Mhadei’.
Obama, seated next to Modi behind a rain-dotted bullet-proof screen, was seen nodding in appreciation on several occasions and even flashed the thumbs up when Border Security Force (BSF) personnel performed daredevil stunts on motorcycles.
Michelle Obama clapped with enthusiasm when school girls performed different dance items.
Obama, who arrived in India on Sunday, became the first US President to attend India’s Republic Day parade.
Despite overcast skies and intermittent drizzle, thousands of people lined up on both sides of Rajpath, the elegant lawn-bordered boulevard dating from the British colonial era that connects the presidential palace to India Gate.
Watch: US Prez Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama grace Republic Day celebrations