Flypast and State tableaux mark R-Day celebration at Rajpath

Known otherwise to witness huge bustling crowds across many age groups, the annual ceremonial event at Rajpath was scaled down this time in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

January 26, 2022 03:26 pm | Updated January 28, 2022 12:48 am IST - New Delhi

Indian Air Force's Sarang (ALH) fly in the 'Ladder' formation during the Republic Day Parade 2022, at Rajpath in New Delhi, on Jan. 26, 2022.

Indian Air Force's Sarang (ALH) fly in the 'Ladder' formation during the Republic Day Parade 2022, at Rajpath in New Delhi, on Jan. 26, 2022.

India celebrated its 73rd Republic Day across the country on Wednesday with the annual parade held at Rajpath here showcasing the nation’s cultural diversity and military might with a series of tableaux and cultural performances.

For the second consecutive year, the celebrations were held without a chief guest due to the pandemic, which has seen a surge in cases of the Omicron variant. However, sanitation workers, frontline workers, auto rickshaw drivers, construction workers and labourers who prepared the majestic tableaus were among special guests invited this year to the Republic Day parade.

This year’s parade witnessed a half-hour delay to ensure better visibility, while the biggest fly-past comprising 75 aircraft was a scene to witness for the spectators. Only those who are fully vaccinated individuals were allowed in limited numbers due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to the armed personnel who lost their lives, at the National War Memorial, following which the celebrations kicked-off with the unfurling of the national flag and a 21-gun salute.

‘Fewer tableaux’

The number of tableaux at this year’s event had been reduced to 21 with States including the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand presenting 12 while nine were featured by Ministries and Departments including the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Like every year, the tableaux of the Navy and the Air Force were also showcased.

Last year’s celebrations witnessed 32 tableaux with 17 featured by among others Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, that were left out of this year’s event, raising strong opposition from State leaders.

After conferring the Ashok Chakra, one of the highest gallantry awards, to late Assistant Sub Inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police Babu Ram, who was gunned down by terrorists in Srinagar in 2020, the much-awaited march past began with several army contingents and indigenous developed battle tanks charging the atmosphere at Rajpath.

This was followed by a flypast by Advanced Light Helicopters developed by the Army Aviation Corps.

Thereafter, several marching contingents showed their prowess with the fabled Rajput Regiment, led by Lieutenant Varun Pratap Singh of 17 Rajput Regiment, carrying weapon point 3 naught that was used during the 1947-48 Indo-Pakistan war.

Amidst this, what caught the public’s eye was the Parachute Regiment, the paratroopers of the Army, dancing to the tunes of ‘Kadam Badaye Jao Kadam Milaye Jao’. They were sporting new combat uniform of the Army. The march past also saw bands of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Delhi police adorning the occasion. Vibrant cultural performances and motorcycle display shows added to the event’s glory.

In another first at the parade, the country’s first woman Rafale fighter jet pilot Shivangi Singh, was part of the Indian Air Force tableau, becoming the second woman fighter jet pilot to achieve the feat.

Several tricoloured balloons were released in the air and after the singing of the national anthem, The President’s Bodyguards escorted him, making an end to the celebrations.

India in 2021 celebrated the Swarnim Vijay Varsh (Golden victory year) to commemorate the country's win over Pakistan in the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. The mechanised columns of the Army showed one PT-76 tank, one Centurion tank, two MBT Arjun MK-I tanks, one OT-62 TOPAZ armoured personnel carrier, one BMP-I infantry fighting vehicle and two BMP-II infantry fighting vehicles.

The prime minister ditched his traditional turban look on Republic Day this year and wore a traditional cap from Uttarakhand with an image of the brahmakamal, the state flower, and also sported a stole from Manipur.

Commanded by Lt Gen Vijay Kumar Mishra, with Maj Gen Alok Kacker as the second-in-command, the parade began with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute. The national flag was unfurled followed by the national anthem, synchronised with a 21-gun salute.

Horse-mounted soldiers of the Indian Army's 61 Cavalry Regiment, the only active horsed cavalry unit in the world currently, was the first marching contingent at the parade. This regiment's contingent was led by Major Mrityunjay Singh Chouhan.

The parade saw the launch of 'Shaheedon Ko Shat Shat Naman' programme by the National Cadet Corps and a display of ten scrolls each of 75 metres prepared during the 'Kala Kumbh' event besides installation of 10 large LED screens for a better viewing experience of spectators.

The contingents of security forces were followed by tableaux from states that showcased India's cultural diversity, with themes ranging from the freedom struggle to biodiversity.

Several government ministries and departments also took out tableaux, highlighting flagship initiatives such as the Jal Jeevan Mission. The Central Public Works Development tableau paid tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his 125th birth anniversary.

The Lok Adalat tableau made its debut on Rajpath this year. The theme of the float by National Legal Services Authority was " Ek Mutthi Aasman (Inclusive Legal System): Lok Adalat". The front part of the tableau showcased 'Nyay Sabke Liye' , a hand gesture of fearlessness, guarantee and protection.

Martyrs and independence movement was the theme of poll-bound Punjab's tableau while the Department of Post's tableau displayed the robust outreach and the modern face of India Post as well as all-women post offices to showcase the steps taken towards gender equality.

Dancers from the Kunbi community, the original inhabitants of Goa, and glimpses from the liberation struggle were the highlight of the tableau of the coastal State while Karnataka's skillfully made pots, carefully sculpted sandalwood miniatures and rich tradition of handicraft were on display in the state's tableau.

Known otherwise to witness huge bustling crowds across many age groups, the annual ceremonial event at Rajpath was scaled down this time in view of the coronavirus pandemic, with spectators' size drastically cut to 5000 from the 25,000 last year.

In the pre-pandemic times, over one lakh spectators used to witness the parade.

From members of contingents to spectators, everyone wore masks. The audience maintained the mandated distance while sitting, and standing spectators were not allowed.

Only double vaccinated adults and children above the age of 15 who have taken at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine were allowed to enter the venue.

There was tight security with personnel maintaining strict vigil. Chairs were placed at a distance to ensure social distancing. Participants also received a white cap with "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" printed on it.

Delhi was brought under a heavy security cover as the city police had intensified patrolling and sealed the borders of the national capital in coordination with its counterparts from the neighbouring states to thwart any untoward incident amid a terror alert by intelligence agencies.

Over 27,000 police personnel were deployed on Republic Day security duties in Delhi and anti-terror measures intensified.

(With inputs from PTI)

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