Sunday, January 27, 2013

Republic Day!

Yesterday was India’s Republic Day, a day to commemorate the day on which the Constitution of our country came into force. Republic day, a day to celebrate our status as a sovereign, democratic and a Republic State, is celebrated in a vibrant and colorful manner with a grand parade that starts at Rashtrapathi Bhavan passing along Rajpath and finally ending at India Gate. We all grew up watching the Republic day parade on television and how proud we felt as we watched the display of our military strength. I also remember how eagerly we used to wait for the cultural tableaux put up by the various states after the military parade.  As we grew into adults, Republic day assumed importance more as a universal holiday than for the parade except while scanning through the day’s news in the newspaper or on the television. But now as I’ve become a parent, I feel it is important to inculcate a sense of patriotism in our children as also to make them realize the importance of national holidays like the Independence day and Republic Day. So this time Abhay and I sat through the entire parade that was telecast live on Doordarshan, India’s public television channel and I felt a renewed sense of patriotic fervor over the contribution of our armed forces towards the security of our country and pride over our rich cultural heritage.

On the occasion of the Republic Day, last week’s “"Young World"”, the children’s supplement of “The Hindu” did a special on Republic Day describing the significance and history behind this momentous day. I read to him a story featured in its “Quick Read” section titled “Parade of Greatness” by Kavita Sivaramakrishnan. Amit and Sneha were watching the Republic day parade when their neighbor Uncle Rao, a retired army officer, sat down to watch the parade with them. On seeing a group of children being given a ride on elephants, Amit and Sneha wondered what’s so special about them when Uncle Rao offered that these ordinary looking children had displayed extraordinary courage which is why they were being awarded bravery medals during the Republic day celebrations. Uncle Rao then explained that the soldiers too were awarded, even posthumously for their bravery and grit and also went on to regal the siblings with stories of these bravehearts who died fighting the enemies. Uncle Rao felt proud to be a part of the men in uniform whom he clarified were not like the rest of us, but that they are men of action and that their commitment and valour has kept the rest of the country safe and secure. They continued to watch the parade reflect India’s cultural heritage, unity in diversity, its advancement and progress over the years. Both Amit and Sneha were filled with patriotic zeal and pledged to be responsible citizens from now on! A great story for kids five years and above on the meaning and significance of India’s Republic Day. Hopefully, many more would follow Amit and Sneha’s pledge this Republic Day!

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