Discover India - Republic Day

Almost every country in the world has a National Day to celebrate its nationhood. One such national day in India is the Republic Day celebrated on the 26th of January every year. It was on this date in the year 1950 that India's foremost article of sovereignty - the Constitution - came into effect and the occasion is marked throughout the country with pompous celebration. Republic Day is also observed by Indian missions abroad and by Indian communities around the world. 

New Delhi Military Parade

The pomp and pageantry is most visible in the national capital. The grand parade starts from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan, along the Rajpath, past India Gate and on to the historic Red Fort. Prior to its commencement, the Prime Minister lays a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, a memorial to unknown soldiers at the India Gate at one end of Rajpath, which is followed by two minutes silence in the memory of unknown soldiers. The National flag is unfurled, the National Anthem is played and a 21-gun salute is given. Important military awards like the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra are given away by the President, before the regiments of Armed Forces start their march past.

Floats exhibiting the cultures of the various states and regions of India are in the grand parade, which is broadcast nationwide on television and radio. Also part of the parade are children who win the National Bravery Award for the year. The Republic Day camp and the Basic Leadership camp is conducted in New Delhi. The selection to these camps are done from various Annual Training camps conducted in the different states. The National Cadet Corps (NCC) contingent which marches during the Republic Day parade is formed up by the cadets who attend the Republic Day camp. They can also be selected to the Youth Exchange program. The parade also includes other vibrant displays and traditionally ends with a flypast by Indian Air Force jets.

There is a tradition, though not followed every time, to invite the leader of a foreign nation as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebrations. The first Republic Day Chief Guest in 1950 was President Sukarno of Indonesia. Incidentally, this year's Chief Guest is also the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

On the evening of January 29th, Beating Retreat ceremony is held that officially brings an end to the Republic Day festivities where the bands of the three defence services put up an impressive performance.

Why the 26th of January?

Jawaharlal Nehru was elected President of the Indian National Congress in December 1929. At midnight on New Year's Eve, Nehru hoisted the tricolour flag of India on the banks of river Ravi in Lahore and everyone present resolved to fight for Poorna Swaraj or complete independence from the British Empire. The Declaration of Independence was officially promulgated on January 26, 1930 after due deliberations.

The Congress regularly observed 26th January as the Independence Day of India - commemorating the sacrifices of Indians during the struggle. In 1947, India gained independence from the British and August 15 became the official Independence Day. However, the new Constitution of India, as drafted and approved by the Constituent Assembly of India, was mandated to take effect on January 26, 1950, to commemorate the 1930 declaration. On that day in 1950, India became a sovereign democratic republic.

Go back