Twenty-six January is written in golden letters in the annuals of Indian history. It was on this day in 1950 that the Constitution of India came into force. The Constitution, which the people of India gave to themselves, declared India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. Hence, 26th January is celebrated as Republic Day every year.

Republic Day is celebrated all over India on a grand scale. The capital of India, state capitals and district headquarters are the major centres of the celebrations. All offices, public places and educational institutions are decorated beautifully and the tricolour is hoisted. In Delhi, the President of India unfurls the National Flag and addresses the nation. The Governors hoist the National Flag in the state capitals. In Delhi, which is the capital of India, the Republic Day is celebrated with  great pomp and show. People in large numbers flock to Delhi from various parts of the country to watch the Republic Day Parade. Many foreign dignitaries and tourists also come to Delhi to witness the celebration.

I had the rare fortune to see the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi this year. The function started early in the morning. The Prime Minister laid a wreath on the Amar Jawan-Jyothi. He paid homage to the martyrs who laid down their lives for the freedom of the country. A large and colourful procession was taken out then. The procession started from Rashtrapathi Bhavan and ended at Red Fort. The President of India came in a ceremonial coach drawn by horse to Raj Path and he sat at the saluting base.

On his arrival, the President was received by the Prime Minister and Defence Minister. The Prime Minister of Britain was Cheif Guest of the day. At first, the President unfurled the National Flag and addressed the nation. He then gave away the gallantry awards. After this the military parade started. The President took the salute from the persons of the armed forces and boys and girls of N.C.C. The procession was indeed grand. It represented India in miniature. India’s achievements in various fields including her strength of armed forces were shown to the public. Tanks, guns, radar and other weapons moved slowly in front of the saluting base. Military bands accompanied the marching soldiers. The names of the weapons were also written on both sides of the carriers. It was followed by colourful dances by school children. The cultural pageants sent by different states also moved along. They displayed the cultural heritage of their states. A few helicopters threw flowers upon the people. Last of all, the aeroplanes flew round at a tremendous speed in various formations. Many colourful balloons were seen flying in the sky.

We celebrated Republic Day in our school also. Being away in Delhi, I could not participate in the celebrations. The school and its premises were beautifully decorated. All the students of the school gathered for a morning assembly along with the teachers. The Headmaster unfurled the National Flag and the National Anthem was sung. The Headmaster in his short speech spoke on the importance of preserving our hard-earned freedom. Sweets were also distributed.

The Republic Day has many messages to the new generation of India. It reminds us of the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters and exhorts us to work hard for the welfare and prosperity of India. It also calls upon us to work for the fulfillment of the ideals which free India stands for.