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HomeIndiaHow a military parade became India’s R-Day tradition

How a military parade became India’s R-Day tradition

Tomorrow (26 January), India will mark its seventy fifth Republic Day. Some of the enduring components of celebrations of today is the spectacular Republic Day Parade on Kartavya Path (previously often known as Rajpath).

The grand parade will function a number of contingents from the Military, Navy, Air Power and different para-military branches, together with spectacular shows of navy gear, together with tanks, missiles and fighter jets. This yr, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, would be the chief visitor on the Republic Day parade after being invited for the celebrations.

However why do Republic Day celebrations embrace a parade? What’s the connection between a navy parade and the adoption of the Constitution?

We clarify.

The historical past of navy parades

To grasp why India has a navy parade on the event of Republic Day, one has to first dive into the historical past of such parades. For generations and generations, rulers have used navy parades as a option to show its power and overcome others.

Historic accounts reveal that in historic Mesopotamia, kings lined their cities with murals depicting wonderful conquests. One account reveals that warrior kings marched by means of the sacred Gate of Ishtar in Babylon, which was flanked by 60 lion statues.

Throughout the Roman empire, victorious generals marched from the Discipline of Mars previous shrines in the direction of Rome’s nice Temple of Jupiter, all whereas the general public roared and gave them a rousing welcome. Historians reveal that bulls have been sacrificed, laurel wreaths have been donned and among the slaves who have been captured should chant — ‘Memento mori’ (Keep in mind you’re mortal) to their captors.

The logic behind these situations was to spice up a king’s status and cement his political authority.

As time handed by and fashionable nations got here into being, this norm of a navy parade was tailored and modernised. It’s mentioned that Prussia (consisting a big a part of at this time’s Germany) was the pioneer of the fashionable navy parade. In truth, the ‘goose step’ — a ceremonial march — that has develop into an emblem of the Nazi military, could be traced again to Prussia.

Different nations quickly adopted swimsuit with their very own parades and at this time, China, Russia, France and North Korea have their very own navy parades.

India’s historical past with navy parades

Whereas India witnesses a navy parade annually on Republic Day, the nation has a protracted historical past of them. Throughout the British Raj, royal parades and processions have been an everyday prevalence. Historians notice that these have been finished not solely to placed on show the British Empire’s dominance to the Indian crowds, but in addition to different European rivals.

When India gained Independence in 1947, it continued with a number of of the British traditions — one of the crucial notable being the navy parade.

And when India grew to become a Republic in 1950 — adopting a Structure, marking the top of India’s ties to the British empire — the nation’s leaders determined to have a parade to commemorate the second with a parade. Their pondering at the moment was the parade could be an emblem of India’s victory over the colonial rule and a sign of an increase of a brand new, sturdy republic.

How a military parade became Indias RDay tradition
India’s first Republic Day parade in 1950. It was held at Irwin Amphitheatre (presently often known as the Main Dhyan Chand Nationwide Stadium). File Courtesy: @IndianDiplomacy/X

Furthermore, the parade would present the world that India wouldn’t draw back on the worldwide stage and had the firepower to defend its land from future enemies.

And with this in thoughts, on 26 January 1950, India held its first Republic Day parade. Notably, that parade was held on the Irwin Amphitheatre (presently often known as the Main Dhyan Chand Nationwide Stadium) which additionally noticed the swearing-in ceremony of India’s first president — Dr Rajendra Prasad.

Historian Ramchandra Guha in his e-book, India After Gandhi, wrote of the primary R-Day parade, “Three thousand men of the armed forces marched before the president. The artillery fired a thirty-one gun salute while Liberator planes of the Indian air force flew overhead.”

Also read: How India rang in its first Republic Day in 1950

And simply as Macron is India’s chief guest for this yr’s parade, the primary additionally had a particular visitor within the type of Indonesia’s president, Sukarno.

It was within the following yr that the situation was shifted to Rajpath, now renamed as Kartavya Path.

Within the coming years, India additionally invited states to participate in a cultural pageant that grew to become part of the parade. Explaining this transformation, tutorial Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan advised BBC, “It was a period of tension when linguistic and regional assertions were making their presence felt.”

And by including the cultural side to the parade, it grew to become “an even more vital symbol of presenting an image of a diverse but united country – a viable, cohesive national identity.”

How a military parade became Indias RDay tradition
The Rajasthan tableau on show throughout the full gown rehearsal for the Republic Day Parade 2024 at Kartavya Path, in New Delhi. The cultural side of the parade got here later and is an emblem of India’s unity in range. PTI

Historian Srinath Raghavan chatting with the BBC mentioned that the parade was symbolic and strengthened among the many individuals their id as being a part of a robust republic.

At present, the parade is grand and vibrant. It’s an emblem of India’s navy may in addition to its range. It’s additionally an opportunity to point out the world what India is able to diplomatically. And that’s finished by means of its alternative of chief guests — and we now have a wide range of personalities from internationally, together with Barack Obama to Marshal Ye Jianying, a Chinese language Communist celebration veteran, in 1958.

Different nations and navy parades

And India isn’t alone in having a navy parade, as written earlier than. France has a navy parade yearly on 14 July to rejoice Bastille Day, commemorating the storming of the Bastille jail in 1789 that set off the French Revolution. The parade held on Paris’ Champs-Elysees celebrates nationwide pleasure and usually options horses, armoured automobiles, helicopters, planes and troops.

China is one other nation that holds a navy parade annually and are maybe probably the most elaborate and grand parades one might witness.

How a military parade became Indias RDay tradition
Army automobiles carrying navy plane journey previous Tiananmen Sq. throughout the navy parade marking the seventieth founding anniversary of Individuals’s Republic of China, on its Nationwide Day in Beijing. China is among the nations to carry a navy parade annually. File picture/Reuters

China’s pal, Russia, additionally holds a navy parade on Victory Day to rejoice the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany. It additionally honours the eight million Crimson Military troopers who fought and died for his or her nation. The annual Victory Day parade contains Russian troopers, navy automobiles, bands and a flyover by scores of navy plane. Russian president Vladimir Putin attends the occasions.

North Korea can be infamous for its navy parades which showcases its navy power and arsenal.

With inputs from businesses

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