New Delhi, Jan 26 (PTI) India's military prowess infused with a spirit of "aatmanirbharta" and diverse and vibrant cultural heritage were showcased on the Kartavya Path as the nation celebrated its 74th Republic Day on Thursday.
"Nari Shakti" was predominantly the theme of the celebrations with President Droupadi Murmu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of other dignitaries joining people and members of the armed forces in marking the august occasion.
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the chief guest at the ceremonial event.
A combined band and marching contingent of the Egyptian Armed Forces also took part in the parade that started around 10:30 am and ended close to noon after a fly-past.
The Egyptian contingent included 144 soldiers representing the main branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces and it was led by Col Mahmoud Mohamed Abdelfattah Elkharasawy.
The ceremony commenced with Prime Minister Modi visiting the National War Memorial and paying tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.
According to tradition, the national flag was unfurled followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute. However, the ceremonial salute this year was given with 105-mm Indian field guns, which replaced the vintage 25-pounder guns, reflecting upon the growing "aatmanirbharta" in defence.
Shallow fog lowered visibility at the Kartavya Path on Thursday as spectators strained their eyes to watch aerial manoeuvres by a battery of 50 aircraft that flew in different formations.
The military assets which were displayed during the parade included made-in-India equipment, showing the spirit of "aatmanirbhar bharat", officials said.
The main battle tank Arjun, the Nag Missile System (NAMIS) and the K-9 Vajra were also showcased.
All equipment from the Army which were part of the Republic Day celebrations are made-in-India, Chief of Staff Delhi Area Maj Gen Bhavnish Kumar had earlier said.
With 'Nari Shakti' being the theme, the Akash weapon system display had Lt Chetana Sharma at the forefront.
The marching contingents from the Army included one each from the mechanised infantry, the Dogra Regiment, the Punjab Regiment, the Maratha Light Infantry, the Bihar Regiment and the Gorkha Brigade. A camel band from the Border Security Force also took part in the parade.
The Republic Day celebrations were held on the revamped Central Vista avenue and was the first at the ceremonial boulevard after Rajpath was renamed to Kartavya Path last year.
Lt Commander Disha Amrith, a woman naval air operations official posted at a strategic base, led the Indian Navy's contingent of 144 young sailors.
The naval tableau, designed on the theme 'Indian Navy - Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive and Future Proof', showcased the multi-dimensional capabilities of the force, "Nari Shakti" and key indigenously designed and built assets under "aatmanirbhar bharat", officials said.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) showcased one tableau and equipment. The theme of the tableau was "Securing Nation with Effective Surveillance, Communication and Neutralising Threats".
Indigenously-developed Wheeled Armoured Platform (WhAP), a modular 8X8 wheeled combat platform, carried on a 70-ton trailer was displayed by the DRDO.
Three Param Vir Chakra awardees and three Ashok Chkara awardees also took part in the parade, and a "veterans' tableau" with the theme -- "Towards India's Amrit Kaal with a Resolve of Veterans' Commitment" was also part of it.
The Indian Air Force contingent comprising 144 air warriors and four officers, was led by Sqn Ldr Sindhu Reddy. The air force tableau, designed on the theme "Indian Air Force Power Beyond Boundaries", displayed a rotating globe highlighting IAF's expanded reach, whereby it has been able to provide humanitarian assistance across borders, as also exercises conducted with friendly countries.
A group of "Shramyogis" involved in the construction of the Central Vista, the Kartavya Path, the new Parliament Building along with milk, vegetable and street vendors were specially invited for the parade.
A total of 23 tableaux - 17 from states and union territories and six from various ministries and departments -- depicting India's vibrant cultural heritage, economic and social progress took part in the ceremonial parade with 'Nari Shakti' as the theme for majority of the floats. PTI JP/KND/GVS ANB ANB