India's military might, cultural diversity and varied unique initiatives will be showcased as President Ram Nath Kovind leads the nation on Wednesday in celebrating the 73rd Republic Day.
The celebrations this year are special as India is in the 75th year of Independence - being celebrated as 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav'.
To mark the occasion, the Ministry of Defence has conceptualised a series of new events during the parade on Rajpath, and the 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony at Vijay Chowk on Saturday (January 29).
The government had said that the Republic Day celebrations will now be celebrated for a week - between January 23 and 30 - every year. The celebrations now start on January 23, the birth anniversary of great freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and end on January 30 - observed as Martyrs' Day.
According to the Ministry of Defence, for the first time, an Indian Air Force (IAF) will show grand flypast by 75 aircraft or helicopters.
A drone show by 1,000 indigenously developed drones has been planned for the 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony, along with projection mapping will be shown for the first time.
In another first, 480 dancers will perform during the cultural programme at the parade have been selected through a nationwide Vande Bharatam dance competition.
The main parade will also see the launch of 'Shaheedon Ko Shat Shat Naman' programme by the National Cadet and a display of ten scrolls each of 75 metres prepared during the 'Kala Kumbh' event and installation of 10 large LED screens for a better viewing experience of spectators.
The parade at Rajpath will start at 10:30 am, instead of 10 am, to provide better visibility to the parade and flypast.
Special arrangements have been made keeping in view the current COVID-19 situation. The number of seats for spectators has been significantly reduced and people are being encouraged to register online to witness the live celebrations.
"Only double vaccinated adults/one dose vaccinated children of 15 years and above will be allowed entry at the parade. Children below 15 years of age will not be permitted," an official statement reads.
To watch the Republic Day Parade and at the 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony some sections of auto-rickshaw drivers, construction workers, safai karamcharis, and frontline health workers will be invited.
The Republic Day Parade ceremony will start with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial.
As per the tradition, the National Flag will be unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute.
The parade will commence with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute. The proud winners of the highest gallantry awards will follow. It will be commanded by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra, Ati Vishisth Seva Medal, a second-generation Army officer. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area will be the Parade Second-in-Command.
A total of six marching contingents of the Army will be there including the Rajput Regiment, the Assam Regiment, the Jammu and Kashmir Light Regiment, the Sikh Light Regiment, the Army Ordnance Corps and the Parachute Regiment.
The theme of the marching contingents will be the display of the evolution of the uniform and personnel weapon of the Indian Army over the last 75 years.
The Naval contingent will comprise 96 young sailors and four officers led by Lt Cdr Aanchal Sharma as Contingent Commander. It will be followed by the Naval Tableau which is designed with the aim to showcase the multi-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy and highlight the key inductions under 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will display two tableaux, signifying the defence technological advancements of the country. The marching contingents of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), led by Assistant Commandant Ajay Malik will also march past the saluting dais.
The National Cadet Corps (NCC) Boys Marching contingent will be followed by tableaux of 12 States and Union Territories and nine Ministries and Departments, which have been prepared on various themes under 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav'.
Apart from military bands performing martial tunes, some new activities have been planned during the 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony on January 29. These include a drone show and projection mapping.