The 26th of January is a major holiday in India. As a child in the Indian diplomat scene I saw this celebration in quite some glory during the different postings I was at. I never really understood it fully then (History isn’t so much fun to learn when you have to sit exams for it!). I saw the big parade televised when I lived in Delhi, it was a day off school and I could see the North and South block buildings covered in lights for several days from the flat I lived in Delhi.
This day is a big deal for which there is a lot of preparation, even more so than the actual Independence Day of India, which is actually on the 15th of August.
The 26th of January celebrates the date on which the Indian National Congress party declared the Independence of India on 26 January 1930 and it’s political movement (lead by Gandhi) for full self rule or Purna Swaraj. India was eventually granted Independence on 15th August 1947 and there was a sort of interim government for a while that was run under The Government of India Act 1935. On 26 January 1950 India transformed into a fully fledged Republic and a constitution of India was adapted. And so officially this is now celebrated as the Republic Day of India.
There is a big parade in Delhi on the day which the public can see. There are floats that display the culture of different states in India which are quite interesting as there is a lot of variation of culture within the states of India. And there are displays of Military equipment and a gun salute. The Indian President’s speech is equivalent to the Queen’s Christmas speech in the UK and watched nationwide. In the embassies around the world the Indian ambassador hosts a party and the flag is raised in celebration. I went to a few of these parties and they were fun, the biggest social event of the year and a big gathering where you get to dress up in traditional Indian clothes and all. There is a really great air of celebration on the day.
There is a special guest to see the Delhi parade, usually world leaders and previously the special guest has included the Queen and a British Prime Minister. So it won’t be long until my invite for DonkeyBox to play a rocking gig at the event 🙂
In India it is really just another celebration of India’s independence and transformation into a modern day democracy and a secular state with a lot of variety of religions and cultures. It is the world’s largest democracy by population. And the formation of it is a pretty good cause to celebrate.