India has showcased its military might and cultural heritage in a colourful parade at a revamped ceremonial boulevard in New Delhi to mark Republic Day, the anniversary of the day the country’s constitution came into effect in 1950.
Tens of thousands of people endured a winter chill and mist on Thursday as they gathered to watch the parade, where Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was a guest of honour.
A 144-member band and marching contingent from the Egyptian Armed Forces also joined battalions of the Indian military and police in the parade.
El-Sisi, in a blue suit and matching tie, was flanked by Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wore a saffron-and-yellow–coloured turban.
Many women, men, schoolchildren and folk dancers in colourful dresses performed cultural and fusion dances down the boulevard amid big cheers from the crowd.
Howitzer guns, tanks, supersonic cruise missiles, anti-tank missiles and armoured personnel carriers were displayed at the parade, with hundreds of men from police and military battalions marching along. Stunt performers on motorbikes also joined from the presidential palace.
Other participants included a camel-mounted regiment with its moustachioed riders led by a shiny brass band with tubas.
The 90-minute parade ended with a flypast featuring 75 air force fighters, including Rafale jets, transport planes and helicopters.
Rajpath Avenue, built by India’s former British rulers, was redeveloped as part of India’s 75th-anniversary celebrations of independence the past two years. It is lined on both sides by huge lawns, canals and rows of trees, and has been renamed Kartavya Path, the path of duty.
Workers who helped refurbish the boulevard, their families and maintenance workers were seated in front of the main dais during the parade as part of this year’s theme: “Participation of the common people”.
India traditionally invites foreign leaders to witness the parade. Then-French President Francois Hollande was the guest of honour in 2016 and then-US President Barack Obama viewed it in 2015. Ten Southeast Asian leaders watched the parade in 2018.