India is celebrating its 68th Republic Day on Thursday, Jan 26, 2017.
Here are 10 important facts that every Indian should know about our Republic Day:
1. In 1930, it was decided that Jan 26, 1930 will be celebrated as India’s Independence Day or Purna Swaraj Day as it was on this day that leaders of Indian National Congress and other nationalists decided to fight for complete freedom of our country from the British Raj.
2. When India became independent on Aug 15, 1947, our leaders wanted Jan 26 to be remembered as a notable day as well.
Hence, on the anniversary of the Purna Swaraj Day, at 10:18 am on Jan 26, 1950, the Indian Constitution came into efect, making our country a republic.
3. It was India’s first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad who announced Jan 26 as Republic Day by unfurling the national flag amid a 21 gun-salutes. Even today, when India stepped into the 68th year of being a Republic, we still follow the tradition.
4. The Republic Day celebration is actually a three-day affair that ends on Jan 29 with the Beating Retreat ceremony.
5. The first Republic Day parade was held at Rajpath in New Delhi in 1955. Since then the venue has been a permanent location of the R-Day celebrations.
Before 1955, celebrations were organized at venues like Irwin Amphitheatre, Kingsway Camp, Red Fort and Ramlila Ground.
6. Indonesia’s first president Sukarno was the first chief guest to be present at India’s Republic Day celebrations on Jan 26, 1950.
7. Pakistan’s third Governor-General Malik Sir Ghulam Muhammad was the chief guest at the first Republic Day parade of India hosted in 1955.
8. A Christian hymn Scottish Anglican writer Henry Francis Lyte – Abide With Me – is played at the R-Day parade every year as it was a favourite song of ‘The Father of The Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi.
9. During the Republic Day celebrations, major national awards, including the Bharat Ratna, Padma Awards, Military Awards, Khel Ratna and other sports awards, Sahitya Akademi Award and other literature awards, and Gallantry Awards are presented.
10. It was on Jan 26, 1965, Hindi was declared as India’s national language.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.