During childhood, being at Rajpath to watch the Republic Day parade was always exciting. The freezing temperature did not dampen the enthusiasm. With a VIP pass, it was thrilling to be close to the saluting base for a glimpse of the annual ritual that showcased the strength of our armed forces and the cultural extravaganza of the school children. It also evoked a sense of patriotism when jawans marched past in a disciplined way starting from Rashtrapati Bhavan on Raisina Hill through Vijay Chowk and India Gate to National Stadium.

The heart swelled with pride whenever bands played patriotic songs like Sare Jahan Se Acha, Hindustan Hamara, and people joined in the chorus.

In Chennai, the scale of the Republic Day parade on Rajaji Salai (beach road) may not be as high as that of Delhi. But, it still gives goose bumps watching it. And the quality of the parade is getting better each year.

My niece Pratiksha, just 12, woke up at 5 in the morning to rush to the beach and be close to the saluting base to get a good glimpse of the cultural extravaganza and also of dignitaries. The number of people witnessing the splendor vary between 50,000 and a lakh. This year, it was interesting to see the ‘turbanators’ dressed in green, the favourite colour of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, start the march past.

It was also interesting to watch Special Commandos from Tamil Nadu in full black go past the saluting base. While the parade in Chennai may not match Delhi’s, there was no dearth of discipline among the participants. And, the tableaux depicting various state government departments gave a glimpse of Tamil Nadu.

The curtains went down at 9.30 am, and Pratiksha rushed home to be in front of the television set to watch the parade live from the Capital. Being part of NSS, Pratiksha is hopeful of participating in the parade next year.

Let the annual tradition invoke more patriotism among all, especially the Generation-Y.

Jai Hind.