As republic completes 70, parade sees a mix of faces — young and old
New Delhi: At 85, Kewal Krishna finds it hard to recall exactly how many times he has woken up on cold, foggy winter mornings to be part of the annual Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath. “I would attend it every year as a young working professional in Delhi. In the past few years, it has become an annual family trip with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. I look forward to it thoroughly,” he said.
“So much has changed in all these years. I am fascinated to see these different kinds of aircraft,” said Krishna. He added that he was equally impressed to see the strong presence of women in the parade. “It is unique and makes me feel very happy,” he said.
On a pleasant Sunday morning, as the country completed 70 years as a republic, Rajpath was thronged by thousands of men, women, and children who queued up patiently and waited at the stands, waving the Tricolour for more than three hours to watch the parade unfold.
The highlight of the show though was the representation of ‘nari shakti’ (female power) through Captain Tania Shergill who led an all-men contingent at the parade, and the all-woman motorcycle team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who left many in the crowd inspired, and who invited the loudest cheers.
However, the audience responded with gusto every time a battalion paraded across the ground, colourful tableaux exhibited their cultural motifs, groups of eager children showcased a variety of folk performances, or when variegated forms of aircraft shot across the skies.
Rekha Kumar, 36, who was at the event with her husband and three children, said “the display of feminine strength in the motorcycle stunts” is what she loved most about the parade. “That was something I would want my children to take as inspiration,” she said.
Harish Deka, 33, who was attending the Republic Day parade for the fourth consecutive year too said he was most delighted to see the all-women motorcycle stunts. “ I also liked the way Tania Shergill led the contingent. It was very powerful,” said Deka. “However, I missed the NSG commandos’ parade this year,” he added.
Wearing a khaki uniform and holding a ceremonial sword, as the 26-year old Shergill led the Corps of Signals, she soon turned into an inspiration for many young girls in the crowd.
There were others who were all praises for the folk dance performances by the children. “I was sad that the West Bengal tableaux was not present in this year’s parade. But the ‘baul’ dance performed by the children was a beautiful presentation of our culture,” said Anumita Mazumdar (55), a resident of Mayur Vihar in East Delhi.
Tripti Agarwal, a resident of Shahdara in northeast Delhi, who was attending the parade for the first time said she was impressed with the overall preparations. “Even though we had to wait for a long time, we did not face any problem,” she said. Speaking about what she liked most about the event, she said that “every tableaux, performance, battalion was special in its own way. But I loved the motorcycle stunts the most. The stunts were a clear message to everyone that women are no longer behind anyone now.”