On the 26th of January, 1950, Governor General C. Rajagopalachari proclaimed India as a Sovereign Democratic Republic, thereby bringing into effect our new constitution. And for the past 65 years, India has prospered as a nation and every single year, on the very same day, the Republic Day is celebrated. Most of us have seen the parade countless times either from the stands or on television, but this is an account of how our beautiful country celebrated its first-ever Republic Day.
1. Before the ceremony began, Dr Rajendra Prasad was sworn in as the first President of India
This was the only time when a President was also sworn in on Republic Day. The ceremony was held in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
2. There was a 31-gun salute
India as a Republic and Dr Rajendra Prasad as President were declared by a 31-gun salute at 10:30 AM on 26th January, 1950.
3. Unlike now, the President was escorted on his state coach
No, there was no bullet proof car that was used but instead an open baggi, with just his ADCs by his side.
4. The President gave salute and hoisted the flag at the Irwin Stadium
The President saluted the armed forces while taking a round and also unfurled the Indian Flag at Irwin Stadium (Now National Stadium) after which the ceremony ensued.
5. The chief guest was the first Indonesian President
President Sukarno was the first chief guest to witness the Republic Day of India in 1950. He was also the first President of Indonesia.
6. A two-day national holiday was declared
As part of the celebration, unlike the one-day holiday today, a two-day national holiday was announced.
7. There was no parade at Rajpath
Instead of the customary parade at Rajpath, the ceremony was held at the Irwin Amphitheatre where around 15,000 people came to witness the ceremony.
8. There were no performances or jhakiyan during the ceremony
Unlike today where there are children and people from different parts of the country carrying out jhakis , only the armed forces put on a show in honour of the first Republic Day.
9. There were also Anti-Republic Day demonstrations
There were reports of Anti-Republic Day demonstrations in different parts of the country like Calcutta where police officers were attacked. There was an attempt to assassinate the Nizam of Hyderabad as well.
10. The four lions and Buddha's statue were placed for the first time in Durbar hall
On this day, for the first time, the replica of Ashoka pillar was placed next to the throne which was once occupied by the British viceroys and a statue of Buddha was placed behind the throne.