Republic Day - January 26th
India celebrates Republic Day which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force. This day is celebrated on 26th January every year as a gazetted holiday, because 26th January is the day to remember when India’s constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, completing the country’s transition toward becoming an independent republic. Indian Republic Day is one of three National Holiday in India. The new constitution, as drafted and approved by the Constituent Assembly of India, was mandated to take effect on 26 January 1950 and India became a republic.
India got its Independence on 15 August 1947, after which the process of preparing a constitution was started. The Constitution was passed on 26 November 1949 in the Constituent Assembly. The Indian Constitution was drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar who is known as the Architect of the Indian Constitution. 26 January was chosen as the day to announce India becoming a republic as in 1929 on the same day the Indian National Congress denounced colonial rule and proclaimed Purna Swaraj, “complete freedom from the British”.
It was adopted on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, when the country became a republic in true sense. 26 January was selected, because it was this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence was passed. To mark this occasion, a grand parade is held along Rajpath in New Delhi, the capital of India, beginning from Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace), along the Day, which is called ‘Beating Retreat‘.
The Delhi Republic Day parade is held in the capital, New Delhi and is organised by the Ministry of Defence. Commencing from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's residence), Raisina Hill on Rajpath past the India Gate, this event is the main attraction of India's Republic Day Celebrations and lasts for three days. The parade showcases India's Defence Capability, Cultural and Social Heritage. Nine to twelve different regiments of the Indian Army in addition to the Navy, and Air Force with their bands march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. Twelve contingents of various para-military forces of India and police forces also take part in this parade.
Representatives of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force and traditional dance troupes take part in the parades. A grand parade is held in New Delhi and the event starts with India’s prime minister laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, to remember soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country. India’s president takes the military salute during the parade in New Delhi while state governors take the military salutes in state capitals. A foreign head of state is the president’s chief guest on Republic Day.
Awards and medals of bravery are given to the people from the armed forces and also to civilians. Helicopters from the armed forces then fly past the parade area showering rose petals on the audience. School children also participate in the parade by dancing and singing patriotic songs. Armed Forces personnel also showcase motorcycle rides. The parade concludes with a “fly past” by the Indian Air Force, which involves fighter planes of flying past the dais, symbolically saluting the president. These leave trails of smoke in the colors of the Indian flag.
There are many national and local cultural programs focusing on the history and culture of India. Children have a special place in these programs. Many children receive gifts of sweets or small toys. A prime minister’s rally also takes place around this time of the year, as well as the Lok Tarang – National Folk Dance Festival, which occurs annually from January 24 to January 29.
Republic Day is a gazetted holiday in India on January 26 each year. National, state and local government offices, post offices and banks are closed on this date. Stores and other businesses and organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. Public transport is usually unaffected as many locals travel for celebrations. Republic Day parades cause significant disruption to traffic and there may be increased security on this date, particularly in areas such as New Delhi and state capitals.
Republic Day represents the true spirit of the independent India. Military parades, displays of military equipment and the national flag are important symbols on this date. India’s national flag is a horizontal tricolor of deep saffron (kesaria) at the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. The ratio of the flag’s width to its length is two to three. A navy-blue wheel in the center of the white band represents the chakra. Its design is that of the wheel which appears on the abacus of the Sarnath Lion Capital of Ashoka. Its diameter approximates to the white band’s width and it has 24 spokes.