The Republic Day of India is celebrated every year on January 26th. This is the day when in 1950, the Constitution of India officially came into effect. It is thus a very important day in the Indian calendar. The main celebration is at Rajpath in New Delhi, but every state capital, including Goa, will also have its own celebrations.
The event is marked by huge parades, beautifully-decorated floats, music, dancing, and show of might by displaying ammunition and rockets, and speeches. 26th January is an official holiday in India. All the alcohol stores are closed on the day. The restaurants and bars will also not serve. However, you can drink in private from supplies previously purchased.
History of the Republic Day
The British ruled India for 200 years and finally India gained freedom on August 15th 1947. However, King George VI was officially still the head of state of the country. India was still following rules decided by the British, as per the Government of India Act of 1935, passed by London.
The Indian leaders appointed a drafting committee, headed by Dr BR Ambedkar, to frame the constitution. It was finally developed and approved after a few amendments by the parliament and adopted as the Constitution of India on 26th November 1949. This became the governing document of the country. The new Constitution came into effect on January 26th the next year, India’s first Republic Day. India finally became a federal, democratic republic. Monarchy was abolished. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was selected to be India’s first president.
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity are the three core concepts of the Indian Constitution. This is inspired by the French Constitution.
Republic Day on January 26th is held throughout the country. This is a day to respect the soldiers who died fighting for freedom, to award the brave and achievers, show off India’s military strength, and mark the occasion when India’s constitution came into effect in 1950.
Top 10 Interesting Facts About the Republic Day and India’s Constitution
- The first republic day was celebrated almost three years after India became an independent country. India was still governed by British rules in this period.
- January 26th 1930 was when India celebrated its first Independence Day or Purna Swaraj Day, defying British rule. So the leaders decided to have this as the Republic Day. The time selected was 10.18 in the morning.
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad took oath as the first president of India at 10.24 am. The president was greeted by a 31 gun salute.
- It took 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days for the constitution to be drafted. The drafting committee was headed by Dr. BR Ambedkar. Several amendments wear proposed, before it was finally accepted.
- The constitution was handwritten. There are only 2 copies – in English and Hindi. 308 parliamentarians signed the copies after approval. These copies are now preserved in the parliament library.
- It is the longest constitution in the world. There are 444 articles, which are divided into 22 parts and 12 schedules. Many amendments have been carried out over the years, though.
- Republic day was celebrated at Rajpath (present venue) for the first time in 1955. This was also the year when the parade was held for the first time. There was no fixed venue between 1950 and 1954. It was held at different places – Red Fort, Irwin Stadium, Kingsway Camp, and Ramlila Grounds.
- President Sukarno of Indonesia was the Chief Guest on India’s first Republic day. The first Chief Guest to take salute was Malik Ghulam Mohammed, the Governor-General of Pakistan in 1955.
- “Jana Gana Mana” was adopted as India’s National Anthem on January 24th 1950. Rabindranath Tagore, a Noble laureate, wrote this in Bengali. It was translated into Hindi later.
- The Indian Air Force became an independent body on January 26th 1950.
Republic Day Conventions
- Republic Day is celebrated over 3 days. It ends with the Beating Retreat Ceremony on January 28th.
- It starts with the National Flag being hoisted after the President, Prime Minister, and the Chief Guest arrives in special convoys. Next, the National Anthem is played, followed by the Republic Day Parade with a 21 gun salute. There are separate floats from the different states, and also from the Army, Navy, Air Force, NCC, Red Cross India, and many government departments.
- On 25th January evening, the President of India addresses the country.
- India’s highest awards, the Bharat Ratna, Kirti Chakra, and Padma Awards are awarded on the Republic day eve. They are given away on January 26th.
- The Chief Guest is a prominent leader from another country. There is a different person every year.
- Republic Day (January 26th), Gandhi Jayanti (October 2 nd), and Independence Day (August 15th) are India’s three most important national holidays.
The Republic Day Parade
The Republic day parade is held every year in the morning at Rajpath in New Delhi. A parade is held in several other Indian cities as well, but the one in Delhi is the most famous. There are 25 mounted and marching contingents, many military vehicles, about 30 aircrafts, 20 military bands, 30 cultural tableaus, cultural performances from most Indian states, and 1200 school children showing their performances. There are also decorated elephant, horse, and camel regiments. Radars, tanks, submarines, and advanced missile systems are also on display.
Regiments from the Indian Air Force, Army, and Navy show their force in the march past. President of India takes the salute. There are para-military forces and many civil forces as well in the parade. A Border Security Force contingent, mounted on camels is a major attraction. This is the worlds only camel mounted force. Another major attraction is the motorcycle unit of the army demonstrating their dare devil motor cycle rising skills. This is followed by the flying parade where fighter planes, helicopters, and jets fly past the crowd, performing various stunts. Finally, the flying squad is seen carrying the national flag.
There are electricity-powered vehicles and floats that show the unique culture of the many Indian states, and the diversity of the country. The parade is shown live on national television and broadcast over radio.
- The Ministry of Defense, government of India, organizes the parade.
- It starts at 9.30 in the morning from the Raisina Hill. The parade passes through Rajpath in New Delhi and ends after crossing the India Gate.
- Just before the parade, the Prime Minister will visit India Gate and pay tribute to the deceased Indian soldiers at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. This is followed by a 2 minutes silence to respect the martyred soldiers.
- The parade will cross a distance of about 5 kilometers. The entire event is for approximately 3 hours.
- Civilians can buy tickets to see the parade. Tickets are available at the different Government of India Tourist offices, travel counters of the India Tourism Development Corporation, Delhi Tourism Development Corporation, and many other places. Cameras, laptops, remote controlled car-keys, digital diaries, and mobile phones are not allowed.
- Other Indian cities where the Republic day parade is held are Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Chennai.
Republic Day in Goa
The Republic day is celebrated in Goa as well like elsewhere in the country. The main function, though, is held at Panaji, the state capital. It starts at 9 in the morning with the Governor, who is the constitutional head of the state, raising the national flag at the Parade Ground in Campal. And like the Prime Minister who attends the event in Delhi, in the states too, and also in Goa, the event is graced by the Chief Minister. Other prominent dignitaries include leader of the opposition, deputy speaker of the assembly, ministers of the state, the advocate general, and judges of the High Court.
A parade is held at Panaji, but of course, it is not as grand as the one in Delhi. There are contingents from the Navy, Army, the NCC, and home guards, doing the march. The Governor reviews the parade and accepts the salute. Later the Governor will also address the gathering, before finally presenting awards. Highlight of the republic day celebrations in Goa are the cultural programs, mass PT displays, songs and dance performances by school children. Hundreds of school children from different institutions are seen performing here.
India’s Republic day is celebrated in many talukas of Goa as well. State ministers unfurl the national flag at Margao, Mapusa, Vasco, Sanguem, Canacona, Pernem, Valpoi, Quepem, Bicholim, Dharbandora. In the evening, it is customary for the Goa Governor to host a dinner at the Raj Bhavan lawns.
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