‘Worth a lifetime,’ say R-Day spectators


New Delhi: From toddlers to senior citizens, everyone was mesmerised by the grand parade in the capital on the occasion of India’s 62nd Republic Day Wednesday, with the smartly turned out contingents of security personnel getting the maximum applause.

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“It’s worth a lifetime….it seems that the culture of entire nation is in front of you. It is mini-India in itself,” said Seema Rastogi, a 35-year-old housewife from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh, marvelling at the colourful tableaux on display at the Rajpath boulevard in Delhi.

It was a surreal moment for 17-year-old Shrawan, who came to witness the parade along with his 65-year-old grandfather Ram Kumar, as the Mi-17 helicopters showered petals to mark the beginning of the 100-minute parade that showcased India’s military prowess and cultural heritage.

The enthusiastic crowds got to their feet, eager to catch a glimpse, as the parade commander, the General Officer Commanding Delhi Area Major General Manvinder Singh saluted President Pratibha Patil.

The military and paramilitary personnel marching down the Rajpath evoked awe and admiration from the assembled crowd.

As the marching contingent of ex-Servicemen, led by World War-II veterans, went past, everyone could be seen rising from their seats, enthusiastically cheering the old timers.

The Border Security Force’s camel contingent, led by Deputy Commandant Amol Singh Rathore, was a huge hit.

“Look they are on camels! How fantastic,” a young girl said, waving to the officers.

Delhi Police personnel sitting among the spectators as part of security arrangements looked pleased as the smartly attired contingent of their colleagues marched past the saluting base.

A huge applause greeted tableau of the ministry of culture and Sangeet Natak Akademi which featured poet Rabindranath Tagore, commemorating the Nobel laureate’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

“Papa, hum kab school jaayenge? (Father, when will I go to school),” three-year-old Avnit asked his father as the tableau of the department of school education and literacy passed by their enclosure.

The children who won this year’s bravery awards looked thrilled as the spectators applauded as their jeeps rolled by.

The army daredevils were lustily cheered by the young and old alike for their stunning balancing feats on bikes.

“It’s amazing…and that too on a Bullet motorcycle,” shouted Sunny as the crowd surged forward to have a closer look.

All eyes were turned towards the sky as the Indian Air Force aircraft did a spectacular fly past.

“It was great, watching them. I have told my parents to bring me to the parade every year,” said Nikita Jeni, a Class 2 student from Dhenkanal in Orissa.