This Saturday, India will celebrate its 70th Republic Day. The day signifies the nation formally became a republic. 58 tribal guests from India and 22 tableaux of states and central government departments will feature in this year’s Republic Day parade. The parade will be 90 minutes long.
We went digging around for unique info and facts about Republic Day that we didn’t know. And we were amazed with what we found! Read on…
- There are two copies of the Indian Constitution, both handwritten, one in English and one in Hindi. The original handwritten copies of the Constitution are in helium-filled cases in the Library of Parliament House.
- The Constitution of India is the longest written Constitution in the world. It has incorporated 448 Articles in 22 Parts, 12 Schedules, and 97 Amendments, and cannot be read in a single day.
- The first Republic Day parade also took place on January 26, 1950. On that day, four Param Vir Chakras were awarded for gallantry during Jammu and Kashmir operations. Captain Rama Raghoba Rane and Hawaldar Karam Singh received their Param Vir Chakra awards personally. Two were posthumous awards to Major Somnath Sharma, and Naik Jadunath Singh. Major Sharma became India’s first Param Vir Chakra awardee.
- Before this day on January 26, 1950, India’s head of state was an appointed governor-general, not an (indirectly) elected president. Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first president of India on this day.
- The word Royal was dropped from Royal Air Force and it became Indian Air Force on this day.
- Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the nation on the radio on the eve of the first Republic Day.
- The lion head from Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath was formally adopted as the national emblem on the same day.
- The Peacock was declared as the national bird on this day in 1963.
- The Indonesian President Sukarno was the first Guest of Honour in India for the Republic Day’s celebration in 1950. This year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the chief guest.
- More than 100 aircrafts from the Indian Air Force flew past the parade. Harvards, Dakotas, Liberators, Tempests, Spitfires and jet planes participated in the fly past.
- Till date, the best and most thrilling aspect of the Republic Day parade is the flypast. The Western Air Command takes charge of this feat. 41 planes participate. Real-time monitoring of the weather is conducted and that determines whether the helicopter and planes will actually fly or not.
- The Ceremonial Division of the Ministry of Defence is in-charge of organising the parade and coordinates with no less than 70 different organisations. The preparation for the event begins around March and culminates a year later in January.
- The Republic Day parade is a long one. The final parade though is 9 km. long. There are judges sitting all along the path, closely monitoring them on 200 parameters. There’s a Best Marching Contingent award to be presented.
- The parade starts as the President arrives and the horse mounted unit of the President’s Body Guard salutes him.
At that very instant, the national anthem plays and a 21-gun salute starts. But did you know 21 guns don’t actually fire? There are actually 7 artillery guns of the Indian Army – called the 25 pounders – that fire off the moment the CO of the President’s Body Guard salutes the President. These guns were built in 1941.
The firing of the gun matches the first note of the national anthem, and finishes with the last, exactly 52 seconds later.
- The Republic Day celebrations last for three days, ending with Beating the Retreat, a military ceremony held on January 29 every year. It was first started in the 1950s by Major Roberts of the Indian Army. The evening ends with the hymn Abide with Me, which was supposedly Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite hymn.