With coronavirus playing a dampener this year, it wasn”t a usual Republic Day morning for children as they weren”t allowed entry at the celebrations at Rajpath.
School children, who turn up in large numbers at the Republic Day parade every year, were confined to their homes this time, hooked to their TV sets to watch the festivities.
They did not get the opportunity to dress up and take part in cultural celebrations as schools continue to be closed due to coronavirus. Few schools had organised online essay writing competitions on Republic Day and activities such as flag colouring for primary classes.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the spectator strength at the parade was brought down from 1.15 lakh to 25,000 and children below 15 years were not allowed.
Few children accompanied their parents, who were not aware of the norms, to the parade but were turned away by security personnel from different check points.
Children, whose siblings were participating in the cultural programme at the parade, could not see their performance.
“I came with my parents and elder brother but now they are not allowing me. I was so excited about the parade. I was even wearing a mask and gloves to follow the protocols. Since I cannot go, my parents are also going back with me,” said 12-year-old Shrutika, who could not attend the parade.
Her father, Ram Bhargav, said, “Why did they issue a pass if she was not allowed in the first place? Nobody told us then. I had an argument with the police personnel but they did not allow.”
Abhinav Shukla, 7, said, “I was waiting a whole year to go to the parade but due to the virus they did not allow children. I am now watching it on TV. Tableaux and military displays are favourite part of my parade”.
“Usually I would dress up as a freedom fighter for celebrations at school or take part in patriotic dance but this year we have been asked to watch the parade and write an essay on it,” said his 5-year-old brother Shivang Shukla.
Preeti Gaur, whose younger sister was participating in a dance on the theme “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India), had to watch her performance on TV though her parents went to the parade.
“It was a proud moment for us. I wish I could see her performance in person but since I wasn”t allowed, my parents went and I watched it on TV,” she said.
The 72nd Republic Day Parade witnessed several major changes owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in 55 years, no foreign dignitary attended the January 26 parade. This year, the contingents only marched for a distance of 3.5 km instead of the usual 8.5 km.