The main Republic Day Parade, in Delhi, gets underway at 9.30 a.m., following the flag hoisting at 9 a.m., on January 26 each year. It runs for around three hours. A full dress rehearsal is also held a few days before the actual event. Read on for all the important details.
Do note that the Republic Day Parade will go ahead in 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the number of spectators will be restricted, as safety measures such as social distancing will be in place. In addition, children under 15 years of age won't be allowed at the parade. The parade will also be shorter. It will end at the National Stadium, in front of the National War Memorial, instead of the Red Fort. Other restrictions include reduced size of paramilitary and armed forces marching contingents and fewer cultural programs.
The parade takes place along Rajpath. Its route, which is more than five kilometers (three miles) long, sets out from Raisina Hill near Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's residence) and follows Rajpath past India Gate and on to the Red Fort.
What to See
The Republic Day Parade commences with the arrival of the President of India, escorted by a pose of bodyguards on horses. The Prime Minister of India lays a wreath at the new National War Memorial near India Gate to pay homage to those who lost their lives in war. The President raises the national flag as the National Anthem is played, and a 21-gun salute is given.
The parade is led by the three divisions of the Indian armed forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) who display their strength. Features include performances by India's Border Security Force "Daredevils" motorcycle stunt team, Sikh Light Infantry, the Grenadiers, and the Parachute Regiment. There's also a showcase of weapons and combat vehicles, and a dramatic airshow as the grand finale. A highlight this year will be the newly inducted Rafale fighter aircraft, which will perform a special low-altitude flypast. In addition, flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth will become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the parade.
Various Indian states and central government departments are represented in the parade by themed floats that highlight an aspect of their culture such as historical events, festivals, architectural heritage, noteworthy social or economic projects, the environment, and visions for the future.
A special feature of the parade this year is the inclusion of Bangladesh armed forces to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation from Pakistan.
Where to Get Tickets for the Parade?
The Republic Day Parade is a ticketed event. Tickets go on sale a couple of weeks before the event, but demand is huge, so you'll need to be quick. This year, only 25,000 spectators will be permitted at the parade, compared to the usual 120,000, and only 4,500 tickets will go on sale to the public. Here's where and how to buy Republic Day Parade tickets.
Tips for Attending the India Republic Day Parade
Mobile phones, cameras, and all other electronic devices (including remote control car keys) are not allowed. So, do leave them behind. There is a strict security check. Try to arrive as early as possible as the area gets very congested with VIP traffic, and your vehicle will also most likely be stopped for security checks. All entrances are closed before the National Anthem starts.
Do spend extra for reserved tickets. You'll get a much better spot near the stage and car parking. The morning weather in Delhi will be cold, so bring a jacket.
Where to See the Parade If You Can't Attend
A live 360-degree view of the Republic Day Parade will be available on the Prasar Bharati news app (Prasar Bharati is India's largest public broadcasting agency, comprised of Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio). Doordarshan will have 50 cameras at the event to provide live coverage. The live feed will also run on the Republic Day app, downloadable on the Google Play Store, and Doordarshan YouTube channel.
Disruptions to Transport and Road Closures
Delhi Metro train services are partially disrupted due to security arrangements on January 26 for Republic Day, and January 29 for the Beating Retreat ceremony. This affects Line 2 (HUDA City Center-Samaypur Badli) and Line 6 (Kashmere Gate-Raja Nahar Singh). Train schedules are modified, and some stations remain closed.
In addition, all Metro parking lots will be closed from 6 a.m. on January 25 to 2 p.m. on January 26. Check the press releases on the Delhi Metro Rail website for the latest information and updates.
There will be no flights into or out of Delhi Airport from 10.35 a.m. to 12.15 p.m. on January 18, 20 to 24, and 26.
Traffic will not be permitted on Rajpath, from Vijay Chowk to India Gate, from 6 p.m. on January 25 until after the parade has finished on January 26. Tilak Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, and Subhash Marg will also be closed to traffic from 5 a.m. on January 26 until after the conclusion of the parade. In addition, there will be traffic restrictions in mornings on rehearsal days from January 17-21.
India Republic Day Parades in Other Cities
If you can't make it to the main Republic Day Parade in Delhi, there are other big events in capital cities across India. Unfortunately, Mumbai's grand Republic Day Parade, which took place along Marine Drive in 2014, returned to Shivaji Park in central Mumbai in 2015 because of road resurfacing. The state government has decided that Republic Day celebrations will remain at Shivaji Park due to security concerns.
In Bangalore, a parade and cultural fair are held at the Field Marshal Manekshaw Parade Ground. In Kolkata, the Republic Day parade takes place along Red Road near the Maidan. In Chennai, Kamaraj Salai, and Marina Beach are the venues for Republic Day celebrations.
Beating the Retreat Ceremony
The Republic Day Parade is followed up with a Beating the Retreat Ceremony on January 29. It symbolizes retreat after a day on the battlefield and features performances by bands of the three wings of the Indian military—the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Tickets for the full dress rehearsal on January 28 are available from the same outlets as Republic Day Parade tickets.
Significance of Republic Day in India
Here's all you need to know about Republic Day in India, including its history and interesting facts.