- Culture & Society
India's Republic Day
25 Jan 2022
This year, India celebrates the 75th anniversary of independence from foreign colonial rule. After decades of resistance against the British colonialists, the Indian people could finally celebrate their liberation from European colonialism on August 15, 1947. But this victory came at a high price: the Indian subcontinent was split into two independent states, India and Pakistan, and millions of people were displaced from their homes.
It took another two and a half years before India formally gained full independence: On January 26, 1950, the constitution of the Republic of India came into force, replacing the British monarch as India’s head of state. In the two years since independence, a committee headed by lawyer and politician Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar had drafted the text of the constitution. Written in English and officially translated into Hindi, the constitution is considered the longest written document of its kind in the world. The constitution defines the Republic of India as a secular parliamentary democracy and guarantees justice, equality, and freedom to all Indian citizens.
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Since 1950, the 26th of January has been observed as a national holiday to honour the constitution of the republic. Apart from Republic Day, Independence Day on August 15, and the birthday of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on October 2 are also celebrated as national holidays across the country. On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi's birthday), Gandhi’s achievements as the leader of the non-violent Indian freedom movement are commemorated with communal prayers, songs and ceremonies. Accordingly, the second of October has been celebrated by the UN as the International Day of Nonviolence since 2007.
In contrast to this, the Republic Day celebrations take place in a much more pompous setting: The main venue is the Rajpath, the central boulevard in the heart of New Delhi, which stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President, to India Gate. This is where the leaders of the state and thousands of citizens come together to witness the magnificent military parade. Numerous regiments of the Indian army, navy and air force present their skills with sometimes spectacular performances. The most remarkable performances include the air shows conducted by the India Air Force and the musical show presented by the mounted camel band of India’s Border Security Force, a military band that is unique in the world. The President of India takes the salute, and the parade also serves as a ceremonial setting for the President to award medals to soldiers and civilians.
However, not only the Indian armed forces show their skills at the parade. The country’s economic and scientific achievements, as well as India’s cultural diversity is likewise celebrated at this occasion. For this purpose, elaborately constructed carts, carrying large statues and extensive sceneries, are presented to the audience. Among others, these vehicles show important buildings from the various states of India or famous personalities and scientific discoveries that have been made in India.
Many millions of people in India and the Indian diaspora living across the globe can watch the Republic Day parade via television and live streams. In order to duly celebrate Republic Day outside of India as well, events are organized by the approximately 200 Indian diplomatic missions worldwide as well as many private initiatives and intercultural foundations. The Indian Embassy in Berlin and the Consulates General in Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg also regularly invite people to celebrate Republic Day – a good opportunity to get to know Indian history, culture, and society.
Did you already participate in a celebration on India’s Republic Day, or do you want to learn more about Indian history? You can share your experiences and questions with us in the comments below or directly through [email protected].
Written by: Ferdinand Schlechta
Cover Photo: Naveed Ahmed - Unsplash
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