Updated: January 26, 2019 11:47:16 am
By Kartik Bajoria
Republic Day, in many ways, is as significant as India’s Independence Day. For any democratic and civilised nation, the Constitution coming into effect signals that it is now a nation capable of self-governance in a fair manner. It is the same great Constitution that has guided India and Indians for well over half a century and ensured that there is order in society.
It could be argued that a passing mention of Republic Day each year at a school assembly, followed by a holiday on the 26th of January, does precious little to inculcate a true appreciation for this momentous historical date among young kids. So what more can be done in order to introduce the significance of Republic Day to a new generation of Indians?
Perhaps the most fitting course of action would be a visit to our nation’s capital, New Delhi. The seat of national power, Delhi represents a great amalgam of historic sights, nationalistic landmarks, and, if visited during the Republic Day celebrations, the best possible exposure to true patriotic pride and fervour. Why not then plan with your children this Republic Day to take a nostalgic and patriotic trip to New Delhi and take in the festivities? What should you do while you’re in the capital? Read on.
Book your seat
Every year, from January 7 to January 25, tickets for the Republic Day parade go on sale at various locations across Delhi. Of course, the easiest way of getting a seat at the Republic Day Parade is asking a government official who may be related or known to you. The ticket sales though, close on the 24th as 25th is reserved for dress rehearsals. If you’ve missed the tickets, there’s still a lot you can do!
On the day of the dress rehearsals, stay away from the India Gate area, and explore Delhi’s charms. Begin your day by visiting Delhi Haat. This complex brings together the handicrafts and foods of our entire nation in a beautiful open setting. A warm winter morning is perfect to begin by eating steaming hot dumplings from the Nagaland Stall and ending it by buying authentic Kuttchi shawls. It is one of those places where the immense versatility of our great country is brought together in one space. There is something here for everyone, and all age groups. And it can serve as the perfect start to a patriotic trip.
Of course, there is also the Crafts Museum, where you can see artisans demonstrate traditional embroidery, weaving, carving, and pottery. You can shop for any number of delightful handicrafts there. Once again, the crafts museum is one of those places that will clearly demonstrate to children, the plethora of experiences that India has to offer, and exactly how much we all have, to be proud of.
Having made a scrumptious start at Delhi Haat and after taking in the myriad of handicrafts at the Crafts Museum, you could take your children to various other Delhi landmarks through the rest of the day. Of the many choices, I would highly recommend the Bahai Temple, a soothing, calm oasis that reflects the diversity of India. Do also make it a point to expose your children to the Delhi Metro, which has been widely acknowledged as a model for efficient transport in the modern era. Not only will this be a fun experience, it will also express the curious mix of ancient and cutting edge that is so intrinsically an endearing Indian trait.
Ending the day at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah would make for the perfect book-end to a day well spent. It is the resting place of one of the world’s most famous Sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya and Thursday evenings, its courtyard echoes with the soulful live qawwalis. On the 25th, you can take part in one of the many Walking Tours of the city, that will give you a up close and personal experience of the Capital.
The Republic Day Parade
Then comes D Day! We have all watched the Republic day parade on Television. But nothing compares to watching it live. The passion and enthusiasm of the crowds is palpable and one can’t help but cheer on as the pride of our nation makes its way in front of our eyes. From the impressive Rashtrapati Bhawan on Raisana Hill past India Gate, military forces, civil forces and even school children display the richness of our nation. Of course, the daredevil motorcycle riding and the Air Force fly past gets everyone’s’ adrenalin pumping and remains the crowd favourite.
The Republic Day celebrations carry on for three days, ending with the spectacular Beating the Retreat. The tickets for this ceremony are also on sale along with the ones for the Republic Day. The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force Marching Bands come together to perform hymns and national songs and the backdrop of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, flanked by the North and South Blocks will make your heart swell with pride.
The Rashtrapati Bhawan also holds a special pride of place when it comes to evoking patriotic fervour. Take the time to see the Changing of Guard ceremony that takes place in the evenings at the President’s home. A new attraction is the dynamic light show that not only highlights the beauty of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, but also shows the world that India has set foot firmly into the 21st century.
Although our great nation is crammed full of history in every part, each city, every village, if there were that one quintessentially ‘patriotic’ sojourn with the family that has the potential of instilling a genuine sense of national pride in children, it would have to be the nation’s capital, and the actual Republic Day celebrations. Make a date with destiny, and inspire a generation.
(Writer, educator and moderator, Kartik Bajoria holds workshops on creative writing and personality development at various schools.)
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