Despite an overcast sky that even let out a few warning droplets earlier in the day, the atmosphere remained festive among the invited guests and the tourists who arrived for the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort in Delhi on Monday. The event was kicked off by two helicopters that rained down petals on the assembled crowd. The aerial display did not stop there. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address, guests were surprised by a large number of balloons in the shades of the Tricolour, many of them with flags.
Guests and onlookers crowded the railings for a glimpse of PM Modi as he descended to greet young delegates of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and state representatives. Tourists, who arrived after the security measures were lifted, thronged the grounds observing the multi-metre floral decorations and taking selfies with the animatronic elephants on the premises.
On the streets of Delhi further away, stalls popped up to take advantage of the crowds heading to the Red Fort, with kulfi vendors and flag pin sellers navigating the traffic. At a respectable distance from the restricted zone, kite flyers began to launch kites, many of them in colours of the national flag.
Other visitors were pleasantly surprised by the changes this year. Delhi resident Sanjay Soni said, “I have come to the Independence Day ceremony before and it always looks good. However, they have done very well with all the decorations and other things this year. It should be like this in the future as well.”
There were first-time attendees as well. Saroj, who brought his family along, said, “This is the first time I have come to the Red Fort on Independence Day and I’m very impressed. However, I wish I had come a little earlier and avoided some of the crowd. I will definitely come next year as well.”
Attendees also braved language barriers. Karthik, a tourist from Tamil Nadu, said, “It is a little hard getting around here with the language barrier. But it is a small thing to deal with to see the Red Fort. I wanted to come since it is the 75th anniversary of Independence.”
One visitor who was present, Himanshu Wadhawan, had the satisfaction of seeing his own work on display in front of the crowds. “Workers from my father’s company and I worked hard to set the seating arrangements and flooring for the ceremony as well as the arrangements near the rampart. It was definitely challenging,” he said.
As the morning wore on, the crowd dwindled but some remained to click photographs. A senior Army officer was heard saying in jest, “I know you all have prior commitments, so let us do this quickly.”