Culture, military might galore at Republic Day parade
Some travelled hundreds of miles from neighbouring states a day before. Many stood in long queues consecutively for three days for tickets. And, many walked for hours in the cold to reach their destination.
All these people were headed to the same place on Friday morning — Rajpath — the ceremonial boulevard where the Republic Day function is held every year.
Braving the cold and dense fog, tens of thousands of spectators from the Capital and other states flocked Rajpath early in the morning to witness the 1.5 hour-long spectacle of contingents, defence weaponry and cultural tableaux made headway on the eight kilometre-long stretch between Rashtrapati Bhawan and Red Fort — keeping the spirit of celebrating the republic live and kicking.
“I come to Delhi every year to see the parade. This year, I brought my wife too,” said Allahabad-based Pawan Kumar, who reached the venue at 7 am, three hours ahead of scheduled time. Kumar, 40, and his wife Pooja stayed at a relative’s house in Noida and reached Delhi a day before the parade.
What brings people to the Republic Day event every year?
If it is an occasion to celebrate India’s ‘diversity’ for Kumar, it is to see the ‘parade’ for Class 2 student Aditya Narayan, who had come with his uncle from Ghaziabad.
Mohd Rehan from Abul Fazal Enclave considers it an occasion to see ‘misslies and tanks’ from up-close, Gaurav Bisht from Dwarka was driven to the event by nostalgia as he was keen to see the tableau of his home state Uttarakhand and take a video on his phone while it passed the main salute dais in front of him.
“We don’t get to see country’s might so closely on television screens. Then, it is also a holiday. Why not be part of the biggest festival in town,” said Bisht who took a cab from Dwarka at 4:30 am before walking to the venue from Khan Market, at least three kilometres away.
In all, 23 tableaux, including those representing 13 states and one Union Territory, showcasing the historical, art and cultural heritage of the country, were displayed on the Rajpath. The occasion assumed significance as it was for the first time that 10 heads of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were chief guests at the parade depicting India’s military might, culture, and diversity.
The patriotic fervour started building since 9 am when the commentators announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had paid tribute to the martyrs at Amar Jawan Jyoti before he reached the venue to receive the President, Vice-President and the ten chief guests. By 10:15 am, when the sun had finally made its way out of the clouds, the excitement was at its peak as the contingents started passing through.
Shikha Sharma, 40, was disappointed as she could not find the tableau of her state Jharkhand in the parade. The takeaway for her was a wave by Modi who stood across the road.
The highlight of the parade was the motorcycle contingent, Seema Bhawani, comprising women personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) that showcased their skills on two-wheelers for the first time. The contingent was raised at Central School of Motor Transport, BSF Academy, Tekanpur on October 20, 2016.
Security personnel deployed at the event, however, had a tough time stopping people from taking selfies throughout the ceremony as mobile phones raised in the air every time a tableau or a contingent passed by. “Mobiles should not be allowed inside the venue. It has become a nuisance as everyone wants to click pictures,” said a guard who did not wish to be named.