Happy Republic Day!
There are some benefits to being a Government Officer's daughter, growing up in Delhi. For instance, the fact that for us 26th January is never just another holiday to wake up late. Its the one day when we are in the middle of the action. Oh, the excitement of Republic Day!
Waking up early to catch the Prime Minister's tribute at Rajghat.
Watching the beautiful black cavalcade move gracefully on my beloved Rajpath through the foggy, cold wintry haze.
The commentator's invariable comment on the weather. "Aaj mausam ne bhi Bharat ko salaam kiya hai. Dekhiye kaise baadalo ke peeche se suraj dikh rahe hai."
And the camera pans across the impatient audience. One swift glance of sweaters and woolens of all colors. The camera's standard zoom in, on the kids section and the commentator's - "Dekhiye bacchon ka utsah. Isi drishya ke liye yeh Gantantra Diwas humare liye itna mahatvapoorna hai."
Then the sound of hooves as the President arrives with the Guest of Honor. As they walk up, you see the smart salute of honor from the three defense forces chiefs.
And finally the national anthem. Being in the range of the location of the parade, we always felt the tremor of the 21 gun salute on our window glasses and our hearts swelled with pride just touching that glass. We are a part of a historic event now.
The solemn silence as the Ashok Chakra is awarded to martyrs who sacrificed for the nation. One day in the whole year, for 10 minutes, we pay undivided attention to the men who spend their whole life, all year long to protect us. And even for that, most of us don't wake up.
The march past and the commentator adding a little bit of history. "Assam ka Gurkha Regiment. 1962 ki war mein ahem bhoomika nibhaya in jawano ne. Aaj bhi inki chaal mein wahi garv aur nyochavar ka utsah."
And then the colorful tableau of the states. "Iss baar Uttar Pradesh ki Jhaanki bohot khoobsurti se humare desh ki Dharm Nirpekshta ko darshaati hui."
The excited kids who dance on Rajpath. The bravery award winners on the elephant. The precarious human pyramids on motorcycles and the commentator's "Eagle formation mein chalte hue yeh motor cycle par sawaar hai Lead Subedar Pawan Varma."
And to close it, the amazing flypast. First watching it on TV and then running to the balcony to see the flights take a u-turn back towards the base. I absolutely love it all.
You know, a few years back, in a Group Discussion or a debate, I don't remember which one, I was forced to take a stand that Republic Day celebrations are a waste of money. I stood there and argued that we shouldn't be wasting money on such displays, which most Indians don't even bother to watch on TV, forget actually going there to watch.
I disagree with myself. I think it's ok to do this once an year. To show some blatant love for our country, to be proud of our defense service, to see what they want us to see, to watch people's hearts swell with pride as they walk past the Indian flag.
I am not in Delhi this year. And will probably never be in Delhi again for this day, for the rest of my life since the parents are moving to Hyderabad this year. So, there's this weird feeling of nostalgia.
Tomorrow will be special.
Happy Republic Day! :)
PS: After writing I realized, I had written something similar on Independence Day earlier. I guess it is just so close to my heart!