Friday, January 26, 2007

Republic Day Parade 2007 in Delhi

Maybe it's odd to feel homesick for a military parade, but how many armies have a camel corps with historic uniforms and an entire, functioning regiment of mounted cavalry ? The Border Security Patrol salutes President Kalam

I haven't seen the Republic Day Parade in Delhi since I was twelve, but every year I wish I could see it on TV, which is never quite the same thing-- so here's what the online life can do. This year Captain Tunku Ismail Ibrahim, grandson of the Sultan of Johor Baru, in Malaysia, led the mounted column of the 61 Cavalry before the President and President Putin, right along with the parade of modern armaments.

The Presidential Cavalcade, above, and Brahmos Cruise Missiles below.

The Desi ceremonial marching style is concentrated in the upper body, the sharply swinging arms making intricate patterns as the parade regalia flashes in all its spectacular hues. You can't see this in stills, but in these two pictures, the Central Industrial Security Force is seen in two different marching positions and lighting situations.

After the tanks, missiles and military tableaux, the folk dancers go pirouetting for miles, the monks chant and the floats from all the states remind viewers of the interwoven lives of a thousand flourishing ancient and modern cultures. And then, for pure sappiness, there are marching bands of children and teenagers singing and playing Saare Jahan Se Achha.
Below, some of the hundreds of hildren in the Parade

As I have a dim memory of how dessicated the land was even fifteen years after the colonial period ended, this parade still seems to me a signal reminder of all the sources of recovery and growth, while the strange combination of senti- mentality and stoicism in the Beating Retreat ceremony is a real tear jerker -- though all of it is fogged over a bit by tales of current security checks and LeT arrests.

Videos of last year's Parade from Wilderness Films are available through Google, most of them for a small fee-- it seems there's a slowly growing need to alleviate Indian parade homesickness -- it's nice to know there are others pining for the misty chill and slanting sunlight of an early, red-graveled, January morning in Delhi that warms up quickly by noon to turn into a pottery blue backdrop for the closing flypast.

Pictures are all of 2007, from Rediff (Ranjan Basu/ Saab Pictures), The Hindustan Times and The Hindu, except where shown on linked pages.

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