Marking the enactment of the Constitution of India, 26 January is observed as the Republic Day in the country. As we are inching closer to the much-awaited national festival, rehearsals are in full swing. However, as per the official government website, this time the Change of Guard Ceremony will not be taking place between 14 and 28 January, as the rehearsals of Republic Day Parade and Beating Retreat Ceremony have started. For the unversed, one key element of the Change of Guard Ceremony is the President’s Bodyguard (PBG), that is the oldest regiment in the Indian Army. The origins of the military tradition of this ceremony are lost in antiquity. The guards and sentries at forts, palaces, and defense establishments are changed periodically from time to time to allow a fresh body of troops to take charge. The Ceremonial Army Guard battalion at the Rashtrapati Bhavan is responsible for providing ceremonial guards and sentries for the Indian President.
Role of President’s Bodyguard
Raised in 1773, the oldest regiment in the Indian Army carries out ceremonial duties for the President of India. The PBG personnel are brilliant tank men, horsemen, and paratroopers, with astounding capabilities. In a bid to make the ceremony more amiable and visually appealing, the event has reportedly been revamped and relocated. For easier public access, the venue has been moved to the Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. An equestrian display by the President’s Bodyguard in their ceremonial regalia had also been included in the ceremony.
The 30-minute ceremony begins with the PBG troops proceeding from behind the Jaipur Column on their horses. The troops move ahead to the tunes played by the Army Brass Band.
After this, the Parade Commander marches in. On the command of the Commander, the guard of the 8th Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (Siachen), marches in. Post an inspection, the new guard takes position along the old guard. Then, the national salute is exchanged by them. The new guard takes over the duties from the old one.
Make a request to witness the Change of Guard Ceremony
You can make a request to witness the Change of Guard Ceremony on the official website of the President of India – presidentofindia.gov.in. You need a valid photo ID card to be allowed to see the Change of Guard ceremony for free, subject to the availability of seats. The entry will be available 40 minutes before the Ceremony and close 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony.