How and where India celebrated its first Republic Day

The over 100 year-old journal had said, "The President drove out of the Government House (now Rastrapati Bhawan) in state exactly at 2:30 pm in a 35-year-old coach specially renovated for the occasion bearing the new emblem of Asoka's capital and drawn by six sturdy Australian horses, at a slow trot, escorted by the President's bodyguard."

And, as the procession made its way through the Irwin Amphitheatre (now National Stadium) chants of "jai" echoed through the streets with cheers of people perched on trees and building roofs and every possible vantage point. The people's President as he would come to be known as later in his office, responded to the joyous greetings of the gathered masses with warmth and folded hands.

"The drive ended exactly at 3:45 pm at the Irwin Amphitheatre where 3,000 officers and men of the three Armed Services of India and the Police with massed bands had taken positions for the Ceremonial Parade," reported the article.

In what would serve as the precursor to the grand festivities in later decades on the Rajpath, the Amphi theatre housing 15,000 people witnessed one of the most magnificent military parades in India's recent history.

"The recollection of the historic coverage of the first R-Day fills our heart with pride and amazement. And, more than 100 years later we still find it challenging to maintain the highest standards of reportage set by our predecessors," V K Joshi, current editor, "Sainik Samachar" told PTI.

Seven massed bands, representing the three armed forces and the police regaled the spectators while units of the Forces, and native contingents and regiments added colour and precision to the solemn occasion.

"But, perhaps the greatest draw of the day was the feu de joie ('running fire of guns') accompanied by the National Anthem as guns thundered in salute to the nation's first President," said Joshi, recalling the 1950 issue.

... contd.

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