Indians rejoice in colorful Republic Day parade with the French president as chief guest

 Indians cheered hundreds of men and women in colorful costumes as they played marches, performed traditional dances and pulled motorbike stunts during India’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Friday.

Thousands of people braved winter chills and mist in the Indian capital as the parade showcased the country’s military hardware and cultural heritage.

It included a camel-mounted regiment with its mustachioed riders, and floats depicting India’s moon lander, its first indigenous aircraft carrier and the Hindu god Lord Ram. India dedicated a controversial temple to Lord Ram earlier this week, built on the site of a demolished mosque.

Women had a more prominent position than in previous parades. It was led by a group of over 100 female musicians, and an all-female unit of soldiers marched in the parade for the first time.

Toward the end of the 90-minute parade, the sun broke through the clouds as dozens of aircraft and helicopters zoomed past overhead.

Republic Day parades also took place in state capitals and other cities across India.

French President Emmanuel Macron was the chief guest at India’s 75th Republic Day event, which marked the anniversary of the adoption of the country’s Constitution on Jan. 26, 1950, nearly three years after independence from British colonial rule.

Macron arrived with India’s President Draupadi Murmu in a ceremonial British-era horse-drawn carriage. It was an unexpected sight, as the carriage made a comeback 40 years after it was given up in 1984 in favor of an automobile.

Tanks, missile systems, infantry combat vehicles, radar systems and medium-range surface-to-air missile systems were displayed at the New Delhi parade, with hundreds of men from police and military battalions marching along.

The parade took place on Rajpath Avenue, built by India’s former British rulers, which was redeveloped as part of the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Indian independence and renamed Kartavayapath, or the Boulevard of Duty. It is lined by huge lawns, canals and rows of trees.

By Ch Fahad Khan Janda