Republic Day is one of India's most anticipated national holidays that is celebrated with great gusto every year. One of the highlights of the festival is the grand parade and celebrations at the national capital New Delhi. The parade starts from Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Palace) and ends at the historically significant Red Fort. The Indian President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces takes salute at India Gate. He also presents medals of bravery to personnel from the armed forces for their exceptional courage and civilians who have shown different acts of valour in various situations. The parade aims to bring together all the diversity of its various states and regions to form one colourful collage that represents the true spirit of the nation. The parade is broadcast across the country on radio and television and serves as one of the biggest attractions of the day. The parade ends with a fly-past by jets from the Indian Air Force.
Apart from the national capital, celebrations unfurl in every state as well with the Governor of that particular state hoisting the national flag. Great programmes and functions mark the celebrations all across the nation. Schools and colleges organise functions to keep the fizz of patriotism alive amongst the younger lot as national flags are seen fluttering over various government buildings and offices.
India's 60th Republic Day will see Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev participate in celebrations at the India Gate in New Delhi. This is the first time a leader from the Central Asian region will be the Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations. Another highlight of this year's Republic Day celebrations will be the 18 tableaux that will roll down Rajpath. This will showcase one of India's greatest quality of unity in diversity. From the folk culture of Mithila to the Gair dance of Rajasthan and the natural splendor of Kaziranga and Ranthambore National Parks, various features from different states will come together to depict the country's rich culture and diversity.
If you're looking to join in the festive fervor in the best possible way, there's lots you can do. Apart from being a part of Republic Day programmes, you can also get gifts for people who mean a lot to you. This will be a nice way to spread the patriotic spirit amongst loved ones. You could also get some good-old patriotic music from music stores in your town to set the tone or go out to one of these restaurants to make the most of the day. However you chose to celebrate, do take a moment to think of how lucky we are to be breathing in a free country as great as ours.
India has come a long way from being a newly independent nation to one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Hardships were plenty but our spirits came out stronger as difficulties were tackled and obstacles cleared. Urbanisation and globalisation may have led to degeneration to some levels but days like these help us relive and celebrated our much valued freedom.