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Indian Embassy Celebrates the Republic Day
Amb. Skand Ranjan Tayal Hosts Reception in Seoul
Special Contribution
By Abhishek Joshi
Amb. Skand Ranjan Tayal (3nd from left) poses for camera with attendees on Jan. 26, 2009 on the occasion of India's 59th Republic Day.

The Indian Embassy in Seoul celebrated the 59th Republic Day on Jan. 26, 2009. More than 120 Indians from all walks of life and from different parts of Seoul and suburbs attended this event. The chilly 14F morning and snow clad roads could not deter the Indians who turned up in full fervor, all eager to celebrate their national festival.

The Republic Day is celebrated on 26th January every year in India. On this day India adopted its present constitution and there was a complete power transfer. Though India got its independence on 15th August 1947 and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was the first Prime Minister, it was still an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth. On 26th November 1949 the assembly adopted the Constitution of India and from 26th January 1950 India became a democratic republic with Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India. 26th January was chosen owing to its importance in freedom struggle. On 26th January 1930 the Indian National Congress symbolically declared Poorna Swaraj or complete independence from the British Empire.

The Republic Day is celebrated with great pomp and show in the nation's capital New Delhi. The Prime Minister lays wreath at the war memorial for the immortal soldier at the India Gate. Thereafter the Prime Minister and the Chiefs of Armed Forces receive the President and the Chief Guest. The Chief Guest of the parade is the head of state of other nations. This year the Chief Guest was Kazhakstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The President hoists the national flag followed by the national anthem. Every year a grand parade is held beginning near the Presidential Palace and passing through the important landmarks of India's historical freedom struggle.

Amb. Skand Ranjan Tayal (center) poses with attendees at a ceremony of India's 59th Republic Day.

The armed forces' armory is displayed followed by the marching contingents. The President of India takes the salute from the armed forces. The armed forces, the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force, march accoutered in their finest official attire. The parade also includes the display of tableaux from various states of India representing the diverse culture of India showing the unity in diversity. The bravery award, for all those who demonstrated great courage from all walks of life, is presented. This year it was more special and emotional because of the recent terror attacks on Mumbai and the impeccable audacity and the endurance shown by NSG commandoes.

Keeping up with the fervency, the Indian Embassy and the Indians celebrated their national festival. Rohidas Arote, President of Indian Student Association, says "It always feels great to celebrate India even when away from home." His sentiments were echoed by many in the gathering. He has been celebrating every national festival with the Embassy for the past six years, when he joined Seoul National University. Ambassador S.R. Tayal hoisted the Indian national flag, also called Tiranga, at 1000 hours in presence of all the attendees. Thereafter the national anthem was played. "I never thought it would be celebrated and was surprised to know about it. I have never missed the Republic Day celebration in India" asserted Kanhaiya Poddar who came to Korea University last fall. After the national anthem the Ambassador read out the message of the President of India addressed to Indians world over. The message highlighted the principles of justice, transparency, pluralistic society, liberty and equality which have been the guiding force of the compassionate democracy in India. Owing to crisis of confidence world over, triggered by actions of some credit and banking institutions, the President called for stricter regulations and stronger corporate governance. The President thanked the armed forces and internal security forces for the bravery shown for the safety and security of the nation. The President bespoke of immense pride on the emergence of unified and strong India which has kept the confidence of nation still alive.

The celebration was marked by playing a few patriotic songs. The songs were melodiously sung by the participants, which made quite a few people emotional. Another attendee, matter-of-factly, said "I have never visited any celebration in India but when you are away you realize and cherish such celebrations." Finally the celebration concluded with distribution of sweets and refreshments. The Ambassador and the Embassy staff played the perfect host, mingling with every attendee, enquiring about their stay and making sure they feel at home.

Republic Day is one of the three national festivals in India, when all Indians irrespective of their region, religion and language come together and celebrate. This day truly demonstrates the unity in diversity of India. The Indian Embassy provided a great opportunity for all Indians in Seoul to celebrate India. Getting chills after hearing the national anthem, feeling excessively proud of being Indian and misty eyes, attendees were experiencing it all. Isn't it that one becomes more emotional on hearing national anthem when far away from home?

Abhishek D Joshi
Seoul National University

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Mr. Abhishek Joshi, who serves as special contributor, is currently a graduate student in School of Electrical Engineering at Seoul National University. He is also a member of SNU Quill, first English magazine from Seoul National University, as a writer. He covers the activities by Indian Student Association in Seoul.






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