India And The US Both Celebrate Independence From The British: But What Happens On Indian Republic Day?

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January 26th: The Birth Of The Indian Republic

India and the US revolted against the same country: Great Britain. Of course, they did so about two hundred years apart, both nations celebrate their independence from Britain on their respective Independence Days.

India however, differs in that it differentiates between the moment of its Independence from Britain and the day it became a republic.

Though India was officially an independent entity from the UK on August 15th, 1947, there was a brief two year period during which the Constitution of India was debated and constructed. Finally, on January 26th, 1950, the Constitution of India took effect and India officially became a republic. This does not mean that during that two and a half year period India was under no rule – it simply still followed laws set out in 1935 by British Parliament. So in a sense, Republic Day celebrates the birth of a nation, while Indian Independence Day celebrates a separation.

Republic Day: An Occasion To Display Indian Culture And Patriotism

Indian Military Band-Image Source: Altaf Hussain

Republic Day is celebrated with an ornate display of Indian culture and patriotism. The main event, so to speak, is a huge parade in New Delhi, replete with every icon of Indian culture you can think of, including elephants, dancing, vibrant displays of colour and clothing, and a military march. You can watch a recording of some of the parade herebut if you prefer to avoid the Indian government’s lacklustre websites, a highlight was a mountain of motorcyclists. (As you see in the Header image) 

Yes, it seems that even the Indian government is hooked on Bollywood’s specific style of overdone action.

Image Source: Jagadeesh NV

The celebrations continue for three days and conclude with the Beating Retreat, during which a band composed of members of the Army, Navy, and Airforce play music, including “Jana Gana Mana”, India’s national anthem, and Gandhi’s favourite Christian hymn, Abide by Me”.

So cross-cultural and diverse is India’s celebration that even the name, Beating Retreat, is taken from a 16th century English tradition in which songs were played to recall soldiers from around a castle. Even on a day defined by difference to Britain’s system of government, India includes an English tradition.

Image Source: Harish Tyagi

Republic Day also serves a political purpose. Other than the obvious display of weaponry and soldiers for political means, India also invites a chief guest. This year’s guest was Francois Hollande, and last year’s was Shinzo Abe. In other words, if you are lucky enough to get invited as chief guest, you are a very important person indeed.

Image Source: Adnan Abidi

In as diverse a country as India, it seems unlikely that every region or state could be represented. But on Republic Day, the planners’ best efforts culminate in a glorious display of India’s breadth. From the Punjab to Assam, from Delhi to Chennai, and all the peoples and cultures in between, on Republic Day all of India marches and celebrates together.

Now Watch The Best Moments Of The Indian Republic Day Parade!

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67th Republic Day Parade: Grand Display Of India’s Military Might

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