Republic Day in India
Many people throughout India celebrate the nation’s Republic Day, which is a gazetted holiday on January 26 each year. It is a day to remember when India’s constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, completing the country’s transition toward becoming an independent republic.
What do people do?
Much effort is put towards organizing events and celebrations that occur on Republic Day in India. Large military parades are held in New Delhi and the state capitals. 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 24-29.
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.
India became independent of the United Kingdom on August 15, 1947. India did not have a permanent constitution at this time. The drafting committee presented the constitution’s first draft to the national assembly on November 4, 1947. The national assembly signed the final English and Hindi language versions of the constitution on January 24, 1950.
India’s constitution came into effect on Republic Day, January 26, 1950. This date was chosen as it was the anniversary of Purna Swaraj Day, which was held on January 26, 1930.The constitution gave India’s citizens the power to govern themselves by choosing their own government. Dr Rajendra Prasad took oath as India’s first president at the Durbar Hall in the Government House, followed by a residential drive along a route to the Irwin Stadium, where he unfurled India’s national flag. Ever since the historic day, January 26 is celebrated with festivities and patriotic fervor across India.
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.