New Delhi: President Droupadi Murmu led the Nation in celebrating the 75th Republic Day on Friday as she unfurled the national flag at Kartavya Path in the national capital and the parade began with ‘Aavaahan’, a band performance by over 100 women artists playing various types of percussion instruments, symbolising Nari Shakti, a new element added to the customary march.
In a revival of tradition, President Droupadi Murmu and chief guest French President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the Kartavya Path in a horse-pulled buggy, the practice which made a comeback after a gap of 40 years.
For the first time ever, the parade was heralded by over 100 women artists playing Indian musical instruments. The parade commenced with the music of Sankh, Naadswaram, Nagada, etc. played by these women artists.
Kartavya Path also witnessed a march past by a combined Band and Marching contingent of the French Armed Forces. A 30-member band contingent headed by Captain Khourda, which was followed by a 90-member marching contingent, led by Captain Noel.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that based on the twin themes of ‘Viksit Bharat’ and ‘Bharat – Loktantra ki Matruka’, this year’s parade was witnessing the participation of around 13,000 Special Guests — an initiative which provided an opportunity to people from all walks of life to take part in the celebrations and encourage Jan Bhagidari in this national festival.
The parade is a showcase of India’s rich cultural diversity, unity, progress, its military prowess on the back of increasing indigenous capabilities, and the growing Nari Shakti, the MoD official added.
It also witnessed the maiden participation of an all-women Tri-Service contingent marching down the Kartavya Path. Women pilots also enthralled the audience during the Fly-past, representing ‘Nari Shakti (women power)’. The contingents of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) also consisted of only women personnel.
The Republic Day parade commenced at 10.30 a.m. The ceremony started with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the National War Memorial, where he led the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath. Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries headed to the saluting dais at Kartavya Path to witness the parade.
The arrival of the President of India and her French counterpart escorted by the President’s Bodyguard — ‘Rashtrapati Ke Angrakshak’. The President’s Bodyguard is the senior most Regiment of the Indian Army.
This Republic Day was special for this elite Regiment as the ‘Angrakshak’ have completed 250 years of service since its raising in 1773.
As per tradition, the National Flag was unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute given with indigenous gun system 105-mm Indian Field Guns.
Four Mi-17 IV helicopters of 105 Helicopter Unit showered the flower petals on the audience present at Kartavya Path. This was followed by ‘Aavaahan’, a band performance by over 100 women artists playing various types of percussion instruments, symbolising Nari Shakti.
The parade then commenced with the President taking the salute. The parade was commanded by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Bhavnish Kumar, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, a second-generation Army officer. Major General Sumit Mehta, Chief of Staff, HQ Delhi Area is the Parade Second-in-Command.