(Written by Ajinkya Kawale)
Amar Deokar (Film Director)
On the day before Republic Day, my schoolmates and I would clean the school ground, decorate the dais with a rangoli and rose petals. I remember that we would gather soil and sow some grains in a pattern of phrases related to the Republic Day a few days before the main event. On January 26, we would get up early in the morning and rush to our school ground for the celebrations. We organised a parade in our village and every class would participate in it. I have directed a Marathi film called Mhorkya that is dedicated to everyone who believes in a republic. It is a story about the struggle of a 14-year-old shepherd who desires to lead a republic day parade at his school and not herd sheep.
Suraj Parasnis (Director)
If my school wouldn’t have taught me the importance of our Constitution, I would never have been able to analyse its many meanings and impact on our lives. Our school organised a prize distribution on the day. Once I got the best individual performer award for a play and it was a big achievement for me.
Abhijeet Chaudhary (Theatre Director)
I think Republic Day is a symbol of democracy. Our school taught us that the day symbolises the celebration of the spirit of our Constitution. Unity in diversity is the proud identity of India. Today, students of various universities are demanding the restoration of democracy. We have to appeal to everyone to maintain communal harmony and focus on the development of the country. We are engrossed in religion instead of technology and innovation. We should focus on creative and constructive work. We have to remind ourselves to celebrate the Constitution and respect it. We are proud Indians.
Chandramohan Kulkarni (Artist-Painter)
The preparation of Republic Day began at home on the previous day as my father was a policeman. We would help him in his preparations and iron his uniform, arrange his medals in place and polish his shoes. We would place our white clothes under the mattress and use them like neat, ironed clothes the next day. I used a white chalk to whiten my tennis shoes. We had sweets at home. I would draw the national flag and attach it to my bicycle. We listened to some patriotic programmes aired over the radio as we didn’t have a TV. Now I watch some television shows and they ignite patriotism in me even today.
Sameer Vidwans (Writer and Film director)
After attending the flag hoisting ceremony in my school, I would be excited to watch the Republic Day parade on TV. I liked watching the Army, Navy and Air Force participating in the parade. I felt charged-up for the entire day as patriotic songs and music was being played around me. The entire atmosphere felt energetic. I enjoyed watching the tableaux of various states, especially that of Maharashtra. As a Maharashtrian, I always look forward to it.
Deepti Gupta (Professor of English & Cultural Studies)
Republic Day evoked a sentiment of unity and pride in us when we were in school or college. No matter the differences faced by the country back then, there was a sense of unity. Now, it’s hard to feel that unfettered joy and national pride. There is a lot of pomp and show in the way we celebrate the day, but inside it seems to be hollow. There are so many differences that divide, and people’s emotions on the matter are more complex.
Sheikh Abdul Rouf (Entrepreneur)
Republic Day, for us in Kashmir, when I was in school and college, was always a battle to be out and partake in the celebrations and enjoy the patriotic fervour. But we were inadvertently under curfew. This is probably the first year where I am looking forward to witness the parade in Chandigarh and also show my son what we haven’t seen all our lives.
Sheikh Abdul Rouf
Moonstar Doad (Health educator & plant-based recipe creator)
When we were students, Republic Day was all about getting a holiday from school and watching the parade. This Republic Day , I will be beginning the day with Amritvela Satsang, where songs of truth from the Gurbani are sung together in the community, to build a momentum and to reach the ultimate freedom, that comes from ‘self-awareness’. Living a life integrated with our core values is truly my way of marking this Republic Day.
Manjot Kaur (Multi-disciplinary artist)
As a child I celebrated with my family and we would all watch the parade and tableaux on television with a special meal cooked by my mother. Now working as a teacher, I celebrate Republic Day in my school, Government Model High School, Chandigarh, by decorating the notice boards in the school itself. My most memorable experience is at Navodya Vidyalaya, Lohara, Moga in 2014, where I worked with the students till late in the night as it is a residential school and we did a huge rangoli in the shape of a stamp, which represented free, liberated and empowered India. That was my first experience of working with schoolchildren in 2014, which thrilled me to the core, as I witnessed so much talent in rural Punjab.
Kanwal Basur (Life Coach)
Every time one visits Delhi’s Vijay Chowk on January 26, it changes your perspective towards the special day. It is different when I first visited the parade with my schoolmates and sat in the VIP gallery with my parents and then again when I took my children to this historical event. It’s such a proud moment for every soldier and citizen, as you watch thousands who have rehearsed for days to put up a spectacular show. It’s a long march, with people lined up on either side of the road from all over the country and abroad to watch the event that is a tribute to India, its unity in diversity and rich culture. The feeling of pride and togetherness stays with you long after the day is over.
Chakresh Kumar (Theatre actor & Director)
AS children we celebrated Republic Day at school with singing, dancing and cultural performances. Ladoos were distributed not just on campus, but on streets, buses and public spaces. The occasion was not less than Diwali. But now with time, the spirit has dampened, as people-to people contact is negligible. The social fabric was strong and integrated back then, as people attempted to reach out to one another, sit and talk together.