COVID-19 Hits Republic Day Celebrations: Fewer Spectators & Shorter Parade
Republic Day Celebrations (File Photo)New Delhi: India’s biggest ceremonial event will not escape the effects of the ongoing pandemic as the authorities, to control the spread of the virus, have ordered to curtail January 26 celebrations.
According to the directive, the government will not allow more than 25,000 spectators at Rajpath in 2021, much lower than an average 100,000 people who gather each year to cheer the soldiers and performers who participate in the grand affair of Republic Day celebrations.
Also, children who are younger than 15 years will be prohibited to attend the ceremony.
For the first time in independent India’s history, the republic day parade will not culminate at Red Fort. Due to COVID-19 protocols put in place to limit exposure of people and the marching soldiers, in 2021 the parade will only march to the National Stadium.
Even the size of the marching contingents is reduced this year. The squads which usually have 144 smartly dressed soldiers, will now only have 96 cadets, according to the officials.
The officials also add that cultural activities and performances will also be fewer, in line with the government directives.
Despite the dampened spirits, the chief guest of the Republic Day parade, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has confirmed that he will attend the ceremony amid fears of new coronavirus variant spreading in his own country.