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  India   All India  27 Jan 2024  ‘Nari Shakti’ takes centrestage at R-Day

‘Nari Shakti’ takes centrestage at R-Day

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANJAY KAW
Published : Jan 27, 2024, 1:55 am IST
Updated : Jan 27, 2024, 1:55 am IST

265 women on motorcycles performed various stunts to showcase bravery, valour and determination during the parade

Women personnel in a marching contingent of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) during the 75th Republic Day parade, at the Kartavya Path in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. (PTI Photo)
 Women personnel in a marching contingent of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) during the 75th Republic Day parade, at the Kartavya Path in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. (PTI Photo)

NEW DELHI: India celebrated its 75th Republic Day on Friday with a spectacular display of “Nari Shakti” in full military might and cultural heritage. This was the first occasion when an all-women tri-services contingent marched down the majestic Kartavya Path in the national capital. Chief guest French President Emmanuel Macron and President Draupadi Murmu arrived at the ceremonial venue in the horse-drawn gold-plated buggy, which made a comeback after a gap of 40 years.

The grand parade, which included a gravity-defying fly-past by helicopters and planes, was witnessed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Rajnath Singh, several other Union ministers, the country's top military brass, foreign diplomats and senior officials.

Soon after Ms Murmu and Mr Macron left the venue, Mr Modi, wearing a multi-coloured "bandhani" print safa, mingled with the excited crowd as people clicked pictures and welcomed him with claps and slogans of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".

The Kartavya Path resonated with a melodious ensemble as “Aavaahan” took centre stage, marking the first-ever musical performance at the forefront of the platinum jubilee celebrations. The extraordinary performance enveloped the atmosphere with the auspicious sounds of an exquisite symphony, featuring a variety of Indian musical instruments sourced from different parts of the country.

The band, comprising 112 women artistes, played a diverse array of folk and tribal percussion instruments, becoming a powerful symbol of women's strength and prowess. Among the mesmerising sounds, 20 artistes showcased the rhythmic beats of Maharashtra's dhol and tasha, while 16 artistes brought the traditional dappu of Telangana to life.

The ensemble also included 16 artistes playing dhak and dhol from West Bengal, with an additional eight artistes blowing conch shells, further enhancing the auditory experience. Adding to the grandeur, 10 artistes wielded chenda, a traditional drum from Kerala, and 30 artistes showcased the energetic dholu kunitha of Karnataka. The musical extravaganza reached its pinnacle with four artistes, each handling nadaswaram, tutari, and cymbals, creating a spectacular display of the unique sounds of Indian culture.

Delhi’s sky also turned into a zone of fervent activity when 54 aircraft, including three from the French Air and Space Force, gave a flypast in a grand salute during the parade. Captivating the spectators, the contingent flew past with a booming sound and went on to perform several midair acrobatics. The pilots began with the "Prachand" formation, comprising one LCH in lead with two Apache helicopters and two ALH Mk-IV in echelon, flying in five aircraft in the "Arrow Formation". It was followed by the "Tangail" formation, comprising one Dakota in lead with two Dornier aircraft in echelon flying in "Vic" formation.

Two Rafale fighter jets flanked by a multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French Space and Air Force also roared. As soon as 95 French troops marched, the whizzing warplanes pierced the morning sky. A 30-member band contingent from France drew attention at the grand parade. It was the second time the French armed forces participated in India's Republic Day celebrations. In 2016, French troops became the first foreign military contingent to participate in the biggest ceremonial event in the country.

Exhibiting the prowess of "Nari Shakti", 265 women on motorcycles performed various stunts to showcase bravery, valour and determination during the parade. Women personnel of the Central Armed Police Force deployed across the length and breadth of the nation provide "Sarvatra Suraksha", read a message of unity and inclusiveness. The women bikers of the CRPF, BSF and the SSB exhibited the strength of Indian values, including yoga.

The first Army contingent leading the mechanised column was the 61 Cavalry, which was raised in 1953. It was followed by 11 mechanised columns, 12 marching contingents and a flypast by advanced light helicopters of the Army Aviation Corps. Tank T-90 Bhishma, NAG missile systems, infantry combat vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, weapon locating radar system "Swathi", drone jammer system and medium-range surface-to-air missile were among the key displays by the mechanised columns.

The all-women tri-service contingent, led by Capt. Sandhya of the Army Military Police, with three supernumerary officers -- Capt. Sharanya Rao, Sub Lt. Anshu Yadav and Flight Lt. Shrishti Rao -- drew huge applause.

Another all-women Armed Forces Medical Services contingent, headed by Major Srishti Khullar with Capt. Amba Samant of the Army Dental Corps, Surgeon Lt. Kanchana of the Indian Navy and Flight Lt. Dhivya Priya of the Indian Air Force, also marched down the ceremonial boulevard.

The Indian Navy's contingent consisted of 144 men and women Agniveers, led by Lt. Prajwal M. as contingent commander and Lt. Mudita Goyal, Lt. Sharvani Supreiya and Lt. Devika H. as platoon commanders. It was followed by a naval tableau, depicting the themes "Nari Shakti" and "Sea Power Across the Oceans Through Indigenisation".

The first part of the tableau showcased the women in the Indian Navy in all roles and ranks, while the second part depicted the first indigenous carrier battle group, comprising aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, her highly capable escort ships Delhi, Kolkata and Shivalik and the Kalvari class submarine and Rukmani satellite, among others.

The highlight of the parade was the display of 25 tableaux from 16 states and UTs, besides 9 from Central ministries. An artistic image of Lord Ram Lalla, whose new idol was recently consecrated at a grand temple in Ayodhya, was the showpiece of Uttar Pradesh's tableau in the parade. The tableau also depicted the first-ever operational high-speed regional rapid transit system of the country.

The front portion of the tableau symbolically represented the consecration ceremony that took place in Ayodhya on January 22, with an artistic model depicting Lord Ram in a young avatar holding a bow and arrow. The tableau also symbolised Ayodhya as a city that signifies a "Viksit Bharat" with "Samriddh Virasat".

Another highlight of the parade was the veterans' tableau on the theme "Rashtra Nirmaan: Pehle Bhi, Ab Bhi, Aage Bhi aur Hamesha". It showcased the bravery and sacrifices of the ex-servicemen towards the nation.

The celebrations ended with a jaw-dropping flypast by 46 aircraft of the Indian Air Force. The IAF fleet included 29 fighter jets, seven transport aircraft, nine helicopters and one heritage plane. All these aircraft operated from six different bases. Fifteen women pilots, including six from the fighter streams, operated the IAF platforms during the flypast.

Tags: republic day, emmanuel macron, kartavya path, nari shakti, 75th republic day
Location: India, Delhi