Memories of Republic Day: Laddus, school competitions, jhankis

Participating in competitions at schools, watching the parade and tableaux with friends, flag hoisting at school is how today’s youth remembers celebrating Republic Day

Representative image
Representative image

Garima Sadhwani

Saurabh Rajput, a 20-year old from Lucknow, doesn’t know why Republic Day is celebrated. He went to a government school where sometimes teachers weren’t teaching and other times students weren’t studying. But that doesn’t mean, he hasn’t celebrated Republic Day growing up.

He fondly recalls participating in a school race on Republic Day as a kid. Shares Rajput, “I won a pencil box in the race.” He adds that along with his friends, he’d attend the school function where they’d get laddus and small gifts from their teachers.

Nishant Gupta, another government school pass-out, shares a similar tale. While he wasn’t interested in participating in any of the competitions, he’d go to school every 26th January for only two things- the snacks the school gave out, and to cheer on his friends who did gather the courage to dance on the stage.

But Gupta would go around town to see the parades being put on by other schools and colleges. For him, that was the highlight of Republic Day- watching the jhanki with his friends. Rajput, on the other hand, never went to the parade but he wishes to see it sometime in the coming years, and learn more about why 26th January is celebrated.

While both Rajput and Gupta are oblivious to the importance of this day, Prathmesh Nigam, a private school student, remembers being taught about how the Indian Constitution came into being on this day. However, he too, hesitates a bit when asked who was the chairman of its drafting committee. A minute later, he coyly replies, “Dr Ambedkar”.

But that apart, his experience remains similar to that of the others. Nigam too would go to his school where the flag would be hoisted and participate in the march-past and watch the tableaux.

While her school would be closed on Republic Day, Asmi Rohera, a first-year student at Amity University, Noida, says her housing society used to organise a Republic Day function in the society compound. Like Rajput, she too has won medals participating in the race competitions. Everyone would paint the national flag on their faces and put stickers.

But, she adds, “over the last few years, these events have stopped, maybe because of Covid or because all of the children in the society have grown up.”

Whatever the reason be, these memories are now fondly recalled by her. These shared experiences of Republic Day celebrations have another thing in common. All of them would look forward to 26th January because it was a holiday. Gupta laughs, “That was the one day we could all bunk school with no consequences”.

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