This is a festival of modern, free republic India. This is celebrated on the 26th of January every year. It commemorates the establishment of the Republic of India and the day when the constitution of India was introduced. All this happened in the year 1950 on 26th January, more than two years after India got its freedom from the British on 15th August 1947.
The First Republic Day Parade
Why was 26th January chosen to introduce our constitution?
In 1930, the then freedom fighters observed January 26th as Purna Swaraj day.
So after Independence, this apt day was chosen, as republic day to adopt our constitution.
On this day, India became a sovereign republic, meaning, she could rule herself, had a government system in place, and this governance was by the people themselves.
For Indians this day in their local tongue is known as Gana Tantra Divas. ‘Gana’ in Samskrt means an assemblage or society of people formed with the purpose of achieving the same objects. In this case, Gana denotes a nation. ‘Tantra’ means technique. Thus Gana Tantra Divas, ‘Divas’ meaning day marks the day in the life of Indian nation, when she was given a technique to govern. And what was this technique? It was the constitution.
The constitution of India was drafted by Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who was born in MHOW, near Indore. The constitution of India carries the national emblem which has four lions facing the four cardinal directions of north, east, south and west, and also bears a chakra, a bull and an elephant. The elephant signifies the large expanse of the country and the elephantine strength of its people. At the same time, despite its size and strength, the way the elephant is a herbivorous and docile animal, capable of being domesticated, India, despite large size and large population, basically positions itself as a non-violent, peace loving, friendly nation.
This emblem was drawn by an artist also from MHOW called under the guidance of Nandlal Bose, a renowned painter from the Shanthi Niketan of Rabindranath Tagore. The inspiration for the lions and the chakra, came from Ashoka’s pillar, and the flow of lines in the lions came from observation of the lions in the Kolkata zoo, by the artist.
The bull in India is called Rishabh, and bull denotes the ability to be strong and standout, which is why we have the phrase, ’He was a bull among men’. With the bull in our emblem, the idea was for India to emerge as a bull among nations. Also being a predominately agrarian nation, i.e, having agriculture as one of the main stays of occupation and prosperity, the bull is also a life line of Indian prosperity.
The peacock with its myriad colours, its pride, and association with Goddess Saraswathi, the deity for knowledge, indicated India’s pride in its colourful, vibrant, knowledge rich heritage.
While the Shanthi Niketan of Rabindranath Tagore produced the national emblem, our nation anthem came from the pen of Rabindranath Tagore himself. Our national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was penned by Rabindranath Tagore and first published on 24th January, 1950. This poem which was adopted as the national anthem, was set to tune in ‘the dreamy hills beyond Madanapalle’ in the words of Tagore himself, i.e., the present day, Rishi valley hills in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh.
Margret Cousins was an Irish women who had settled down along with her husband James Cousins in Madanapalle to teach at the Theosophical school there. Besides, being an ardent supporter of Gandhiji and an ardent worker for the upliftment of women in India, she was also an accomplished musician. The tune for ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was the result of a collaboration between Rabindranath Tagore and Margret Cousins, when Tagore visited Madanapalle. And this tune forms the backbone of our Republic Day celebrations and every other event of national significance in India.
The other symbol of our national identity, the flag, the Indian tricolour, Tiranga, was designed by Pingali Venkayya and had been introduced on Independence Day in 1947.
In contrast to many nations which fly their flag as a mark of their strength, India flies its flag as a sign of friendship and peace. The three bands of colours denote the prominent characteristics of India. Saffron denotes wisdom, white denotes peaceful nature and green denotes the fertile nature of India. The blue chakra in the centre stands for righteousness and a long life through the passage of time.
All these aspects of India arise out of the principle that governs and drives the entire nation and its populace – the principle of “absolute truth”, which also forms the basis of the slogan of the nation.
The slogan of India, inscribed on the national emblem, is ‘Satyameva, Jayathe’ meaning,
The republic day or Gana Tantra Divas, is thus the day to mark the birth of a sovereign, democratic republic, called ‘Bharath, that is India’, as stated in the opening lines of the Constitution of India, itself. It is a day to celebrate our national identity denoted by our emblem, an anthem and a flag.
A joyous occasion, it is celebrated parades in Delhi, national capital and every other state capital comprising of colourful pageants that display the colour and valour of the country. The armed forces, army, navy and airforce from all across India participate in the parades and displaying the country’s military strength, along with the general public who put up shows and tableau displaying the country’s colourful cultural strength.
From 26th January onwards, the national capital wears a spirit of festivities. The Moghul gardens, a pride of India, in the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India are thrown open to public for four days until the 29th January.