India is celebrating its 70th Republic Day today. The theme for this year's Republic Day parade was dedicated to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi as India is celebrating the 150th year of his birth.
Republic Day is celebrated every year on January 26 since 1950. The Republic Day holds great importance in the history of India's democracy. It was on January 26, 1950 that the largest constitution of the world came into effect in India. Since then India became a Republic - A nation "For the people, by the people, and of the people."
2019 is a year that not only marks the 70th anniversary of India becoming a Republic, but also marks the 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi's birth. The chief guest for the 70th Republic Day was South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. South Africa and India have shared a special relationship right since the time of Mahatma Gandhi, who had a special connection with the African nation.
The 90-minute parade saw 22 larger-than-life tableaux, each one giving a special tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. Those were followed by performances by school students and others, who too danced to songs in remembrance of Mahatma Gandhi. Each tableau and performance highlighted the Mahatma's teachings.
The tableaux from various states included those from Sikkim, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Tripura, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Uttarakhand, among others.
With many of them having big sculptures of Mahatma Gandhi, the participating tableaux were on various sub-themes pertaining to the Mahatma. These included his role with the Andamanese prison inmates (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), the historical Dandi March (Gujarat), his adoption of the iconic loincloth after seeing farm workers in Tamil Nadu and the Quit India Movement in Maharashtra.
The Uttarakhand tableau featured Kausani's Anasakti Ashram where Mahatma Gandhi had stayed in 1929. The tableau showed Gandhi writing his book ''Anasakti Yoga'' at the ashram in the backdrop of mountains and Deodar trees.
Uttar Pradesh's Republic Day tableau had 'Commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi' as its theme, with Mahatma Gandhi at the Kashi Vidyapith. Jammu and Kashmir focused on the theme 'Gandhi's ray of hope - our composite culture'. The tableau showcased Mahatma Gandhi with his charkha and the ethnic diversity of the Valley.
The parade saw an enthusiastic participation from northeastern states Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and Tripura. The original plan was to also have a tableau of Manipur, but that had to be dropped due to delay in its arrival.
'Peace Within' was Arunachal Pradesh's theme for their tableau, showing a tribal Monpa placing flowers at Gandhi ji's feet. It also shows the dancing Monpa tribe stressing on peace and cleanliness.
Delhi's tableau showcased the theme 'Mahatma Gandhi and Delhi' and displayed his association with the national capital and the Birla House which is now known as Gandhi Smriti. West Bengal's tableau depicted two phases in Mahatma Gandhi's life - his stay in Kolkata during India's Independence, and his association with Rabindranath Tagore.
Punjab made an evocative presentation marking 100 years of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919, a watershed moment in the independence struggle.
From the ministries and Central departments, the participants were Ministries of Agriculture, Power and Drinking Water and Sanitation, for tableaux titled 'Kisan Gandhi', 'Saubhagya: New Indian Raushan India' and 'Swachh Bharat Mission' respectively.
The tableau by the Ministry of Railways was a big hit with the crowd, where people stood up from their seats to cheer and clap as it passed them. It was dedicated on Gandhi ji's journey from 'lawyer' Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to 'Mahatma' Gandhi. Titled 'Mohan se Mahatma', it focused on his transformation after the racial discrimination he suffered in South Africa. It also showed India's journey from the steam engine to the Train 18 and bullet train in cut-outs pasted on the side.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)