The sight of the gaily decorated horses and camels strutting down the Rajpath left Greece national Nada Sgrmar spellbound, but what disappointed her was the absence of elephants in the Republic Day parade. “There were camels and horses. I was expecting elephants to be part of the parade. It (the parade) was good and gave good peek into the diverse Indian culture. It left me spellbound,” said Nada (65), who is visiting India as a tourist.
Animals have been a traditional part of Republic Day parades and caparisoned elephants carrying young recipients of the National Awards for Bravery used to be a prime attraction. But this year’s parade as well as last year’s did not see the tuskers in action. Colourfully bedecked in Rajasthani fashion, BSF’s camel contingent is a crowd favourite. The 61 Cavalry, the world’s only actively serving horse cavalry regiment, is also a part of the annual parade.
In last year’s parade, one of the major attractions was the Indian Army dogs that marched down the Rajpath after 26 years. The Army has selected 36 dogs out of 1,200 Labradors and German Shepherds for the event. Nada, who managed to arrange a R-Day pass through a friend, seemed unaware that pachyderms ceased to be part of the Indian battlefield centuries ago.
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When informed that elephants aren’t part of the Indian military and para-military forces, she expressed disappointment. Mar Rajni, a visiting Italian tourist in his late-sixties, also came to see the Republic Day Parade. Rajni too expressed disappointed over elephants not being the part of the parade. But as the camel contingent marched past the Rajpath, even he was compelled drop down his jaws with a “Wow”. “The parade was good. The camel contingent was beautiful and colourful. But I wanted to see the elephants,” he said.