Republic Day honors the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.
The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country's transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1930 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by British Regime.
It is one of three national holidays in India, the other two being Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti.
India achieved independence from British raj on 15 August 1947 following the Indian independence movement noted for largely peaceful non-violent resistance and civil disobedience led by Mahatma Gandhi. The independence came through the Indian Independence Act 1947 (10 & 11 Geo 6 c 30), an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent Dominions of the British Commonwealth (later Commonwealth of Nations). India obtained its independence on 15 August 1947 as a constitutional monarchy with George VI as head of state and the Earl Mountbatten as governor-general. The country, though, did not yet have a permanent constitution; instead its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935. On 28 August 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr B R Ambedkar as chairman. While India's Independence Day celebrates its freedom from British Rule, the Republic Day celebrates the coming into force of its constitution. A draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on 4 November 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on 24 January 1950. Two days later, it came into effect throughout the whole nation.
The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India. On this day, ceremonious parades take place at the Rajpath, which are performed as a tribute to India; its unity in diversity and rich cultural heritage.
In 2016, on the occasion of the 67th Republic Day, the Protocol Department of the Government of Maharashtra held its first parade on the lines of the Delhi Republic Day parade along the entire stretch of Marine Drive in Mumbai.
Delhi Republic Day parade is held in the capital, New Delhi. Commencing from the gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's residence), Raisina Hill on Rajpath past the India Gate, this event is the main attraction of India's Republic Day Celebrations lasting 3 days. The parade showcases India's Defence Capability, Cultural and Social Heritage.
Nine to twelve different regiments of the Indian Army in addition to the Navy, and Air Force with their bands march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. Twelve contingents of various para-military forces of India and other civil forces also take part in this parade.
The Beating Retreat ceremony is held after officially denoting the end of Republic Day festivities. It is conducted on the evening of 29 January, the third day after the Republic Day. It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The venue is Raisina Hill and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the North and South block of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Palace) towards the end of Rajpath.
The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India who arrives escorted by the (PBG), a cavalry unit. When the President arrives, the PBG commander asks the unit to give the National Salute, which is followed by the playing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by the Army. The Army develops the ceremony of display by the massed bands in which Military Bands, Pipe and Drum Bands, Buglers and Trumpeters from various Army Regiments besides bands from the Navy and Air Force take part which play popular tunes like Abide With Me, Mahatma Gandhi's favourite hymn, and Saare Jahan Se Achcha at the end.
Since 1950, India has been hosting head of state or government of another country as the state guest of honor for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. During 1950–1954, Republic Day celebrations were organised at different venues (like Irwin Stadium, Kingsway, Red Fort and Ramlila Grounds). It was only starting 1955 when the parade in its present form was organised at Rajpath. The guest country is chosen after a deliberation of strategic, economic and political interests. During 1950s–1970s, a number of NAM and Eastern Bloc countries were hosted by India. In 1968 and 1974, India played host to two countries on the same Republic Day.