India showcased its military might and cultural heritage in a colorful parade on New Delhi’s revamped Ceremonial Boulevard to mark Republic Day, the anniversary of the day the country’s constitution came into effect in 1950.
Tens of thousands of people braved the winter cold and fog Thursday as they gathered to watch the parade, which featured Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as guest of honor.
A 144-member orchestra and a marching contingent of the Egyptian armed forces also joined battalions of the Indian Army and police in the parade.
Alongside El-Sisi, in a blue suit and matching tie, were Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wore a saffron and yellow turban.
Many women, men, school children and folk dancers in colorful dresses performed cultural and fusion dances down the boulevard to the cheers of the audience.
Howitzers, tanks, supersonic cruise missiles, anti-tank missiles and armored personnel carriers were displayed in the parade, and hundreds of people from police and army battalions marched. Stuntmen on motorbikes also joined from the presidential palace.
Other participants included a regiment of camels with their mustachioed riders led by splendid brass and tuba music.
The 90-minute parade ended with a flyover involving 75 combat aircraft, including Rafales, transport aircraft and helicopters.
Rajpath Avenue, built by the former British rulers of India, has been renovated as part of India’s 75th independence anniversary celebrations over the past two years. It is bordered on both sides by vast lawns, canals and rows of trees, and has been renamed the Kartavya Path, the path of duty.
Workers who helped rebuild the boulevard, their families and maintenance workers sat in front of the main podium during the parade as part of this year’s theme: “Participation of Ordinary People.”
India traditionally invites foreign leaders to attend the parade. Then-French President Francois Hollande was the guest of honor in 2016, and then-US President Barack Obama watched it in 2015. Ten Southeast Asian leaders watched the 2018 parade.