New Delhi: March by a contingent of 123 French soldiers, breath-taking manoeuvres by air force jets, a procession of tableaux presenting a glimpse of India's culture and the progress made by the country and all-women marching contingents of the three Services, are some of the attractions in store for guests at the Republic Day function here.
The official Republic Day celebration this year is going to be 90-minute long, 25 minutes shorter than the traditional duration of 115 minutes.
A dress rehearsal held here today on Rajpath provided a majestic view of the pomp and pageantry lined up for the 67th Republic Day parade.
For the first time in the history of Republic Day parade, a foreign contingent comprising 123 French soldiers will march down the Rajpath along with the Indian troops in presence of France's President Francois Hollande who will be the chief guest this year. The preview today began with four Army helicopters flying above Rajpath displaying the tricolour and the flags of Army, Air Force and Navy.
At least 27 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will be part of the fly past over Rajpath during this year's parade. Leading the parade will be the traditional 'Ensign' formation comprising four Mi-17 V5 helicopters in an inverted 'Y' formation.
The second phase was led by 'Chakra' formation of three Mi-35 helicopters in 'Vic' formation, followed by three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. This was followed by the Globe formation comprising one C-17 aircraft and two Su-30 MKI aircraft. The first fighter formation comprised five Jaguar aircraft in the shape of an Arrowhead, followed by five MiG-29 upgrade aircraft in similar formation.
National bravery award-winning children seated in open jeeps, too, were part of the cultural pageant. In all, 23 tableaux, including 17 from the various states, provided a kaleidoscopic view of the country's economic strength, cultural heritage and development of science and technology.
A giant statue of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, rare natural abode of Asiatic lions in Gir, white tiger safari and initiatives like 'Swachh Bharat' and 'Digital India' are among the themes this year for the R-Day tableaux. States registering their presence this year include Assam, Goa, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Tripura, Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat.
Six tableaux from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, New and Renewable energy, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Communication and IT, Panchayati Raj and Election Commission will also find their place at the 67th Republic Day on the Rajpath. Groups of school children presented their dances in front of the presidential dais.
Viewers this year will also be greeted by a march past by a canine crack team, comprising 36 of the Army's thoroughbred Labradors and German Shepherds. A glistening all-woman CRPF team too will take part in the parade.
The Women Daredevils will replace the regular CRPF male contingent this year. The parade also featured jaw-dropping stunts by Army officers on motorbikes, who executed daredevil stunts as they showcased the 'double ladder', 'human pyramid', 'bouquet' and 'chakra' formations. After the national anthem and before the departure of the President, balloons of three colours of the national flag would be released from different locations at Rajpath on Republic Day.
The full dress rehearsal, however, caused traffic jams in central and south Delhi as restrictions were imposed around the venue of the parade.