Republic Day 2022: Why 26 January was chosen, significance and history of festival

Each year, India celebrates three national festivals : Republic Day on 26 January, Independence Day on 15 August and Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October.

FP Staff January 25, 2022 06:00:04 IST
Republic Day 2022: Why 26 January was chosen, significance and history of festival

Each year, India has a grand parade at Rajpath in Delhi on 26 January. AFP

Each year, India celebrates three national festivals: Republic Day on 26 January, Independence Day on 15 August and Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October.

The country will celebrate its 73rd Republic Day on Wednesday albeit with a few changes keeping in mind the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s find out the history of Republic Day, its significance and why we celebrate it:

Why we celebrate Republic Day on 26 January

Even though India achieved independence on 15 August, 1947, its laws were still based on the colonial Government of India Act 1935.

On 19 August, 1947, a resolution was moved for the appointment of the Drafting Committee that was responsible to draft a constitution. Dr BR Ambedkar was chosen as its chairman.

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On 26 January 1950, India the Constitution of India came into effect, replacing the Government of India Act (1935). By adopting its own Constitution, India became a republic on 26 January.

On that day, Dr Rajendra Prasad started his first term as President of India and the Constituent Assembly became the Parliament of India under the transitional provisions of the new Constitution.

Long before India became independent of British rule on 15 August, 1947, the Indian National Congress (INC) proclaimed “Purna Swaraj”, or complete self-rule, on 26 January, 1930.

While India was independent on 15 August, 1947, it was still governing as per the Government of India Act 1935. Only with the adoption of the Constitution on 26 January, 1950 did it become a republic and completely self-ruled.

How Republic Day is celebrated

Celebrations for the Republic Day begin from 24 January. However, this year it began a day earlier with ‘Parakram Diwas’, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

The president addresses the nation on the eve of the Republic Day.

Before the main celebration of Republic Day begins with the largest and most important parades of the year, the prime minister lays a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, which is followed by two minutes of silence to pay respect to the fallen soldiers of India.

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After the president, the prime minister and the chief guest reach the dais, the former unfurls the National Flag as the National Anthem Jana Gana Mana is played.

The Indian Army Regiment of Artillery then gives a 21-gun salute.

The president then bestows important awards like the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra are to the people from the armed forces for their exceptional courage in the field and also the civilians who have distinguished themselves by their different acts of valour in different situations, either in military, civilian or disaster scenarios.

This is followed by the parade, which starts from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and goes through Rajpath, India Gate till Red Fort. But due to Covid-19, it will only go up to the National Stadium this year.

The parade showcases India's defence capability, cultural and social heritage as different regiments of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force with their bands march past.

The president, who also holds the position of the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, is saluted by forces.

Contingents of various para-military forces and police forces also take part in the parade.

The parade also includes a display of daredevil motorcycle riding skills by the motorcycle units of the Armed Forces and civil security services. A flypast by the Indian Air Force jets and helicopters also enthrals the viewers.

Colourful tableaus from various states signifying their cultures are also part of the Republic Day celebration. The tableaus represent historical events, heritage, culture, development programmes and wildlife of different states.

Republic Day celebrations come to an end with Beating Retreat on 29 January.

The beating retreat is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military - the Army, Navy and Air Force.

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