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Thousands gave their lives and fought bravely so that we can celebrate freedom on this day.

In Mahatma Gandhi’s words- “Just as a man wouldn’t cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble or great the latter may be.”

First Republic Day Parade in 1950

Here are 13 lesser-known facts about India’s first Republic Day in 1950.

President Rajendra Prasad (in the horse-drawn carriage) readies to take part in the first Republic Day parade on Rajpath, New Delhi, in 1950.

  • India’s First Republic Day Parade was on January 26, 1950.
  • The reason behind celebrating this day is that Indian National Congress declared Purna Swaraj Day (Complete Independence Day from British Raj), which was previously planned for January 26, 1930, at Lahore.
  • Our Constitution came into effect on 26 January 1950, after the country won Independence from British Raj on August 15, 1947.
  • On that day, Dr.Rajendra Prasad, who was the country’s first president, was sworn in at 10:24 am on the first Republic Day. He took the baton from the nation’s last Governor-General, C Rajagopalachari in a ceremony at the Durbar Hall in the Government House.

Here is the video of India’s first Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 1950.

  • There was a 31-gun salute at the Irwin Stadium (now Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium) in Delhi.
  • President Dr. Rajendra Prasad was escorted in an open buggy, not in a car.
  • At the Republic Day celebrations in 1950, the First Indonesian President Dr.Sukarno was the chief guest.
  • A two day National Holiday was declared to celebrate complete independence from British rule.
  • Unlike today where numerous dance performances are organized on this day, back then only the Army band performed, the national flag was hoisted and the national anthem “Jana Gana Mana” was sung. By then, the tri-color national flag had already been adopted, on July 22, 1947.
  • On that very day, the “Royal” prefix was dropped from the Indian Air Force and more than 100 aircraft participated in the nation’s first parade.
  • The country also adopted its national animal- the lion on Republic Day 1950 and national bird as Peacock, which was declared in 1963.
  • This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel “Ashoka Chakra” from its base was placed onto the center of the flag of India.
  • After the ceremony, Rajendra Prasad greeted the citizens of the country on the first Republic Day.

Just in case you are thinking to celebrate the day by raising an alcoholic toast, remember it is Dry Day!

Happy 70th Republic Day!