Today is the day when India forgot cricket (well, almost) and was hooked to the live broadcast of the majestic parade at Delhi’s Rajpath. From all-women marching contingent to spectacular bike stunts, India displayed its military prowess and the cultural diversity in the heart of the Capital at iconic Rajpath in the chilly January morning on Saturday. Several people were seated much before the start of the parade. The celebrations began on the solemn note as Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to the martyrs at Amar Jawan Jyoti. Dressed in smart cream-coloured kurta, churidar and jacket, PM Modi was seen in his signature ‘bandhani saafa’. Later he reached the Rajpath and received President Ram Nath Kovind and the chief guest President Ramaphosa.
The ceremonial parade rolled down the majestic Rajpath with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in attendance as the chief guest, amid unprecedented security deployment in the national capital.
At the unfurling of the Tricolour, the military band played the national anthem ‘Jana, Gana, Mana’ with a 21-gun salute fired in the background.
Several senior leaders, including Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were among those present on the occasion.
This year, the theme for the Republic Day celebrations was the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
After legendary leader and South African President Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa became the South African president to attend the event as its chief guest.
Interestingly, the parade saw four Indian National Army veterans, one aged 100, taking part in the parade. India's military might was also on display, with the artillery gun system M777 American Ultra Light Howitzers, recently acquired from the US, and K9 Vajra, a self-propelled artillery gun, showcased on Rajpath, being new additions this year.
'Nari Shakti' (women power) was on full display on the ceremonial boulevard with an all-woman Assam Rifles contingent creating history this year by participating for the first time in the parade, which was led by Maj Khushboo Kanwar.
Contingents of the Navy, Army Service Corps and a unit of Corps of Signals (transportable satellite terminal) were led by women officers too, as the crowd cheered.
The tableaux of Sikkim, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, West Bengal, Tripura, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Uttarakhand were also displayed on the occasion.
(With inputs from PTI)