At 9.9 degrees Celsius, it was the coldest Republic Day in a decade. But, the feverish enthusiasm among the thousands of spectators, coupled with a feeling of national pride, made the 65th Republic Day celebrations on Rajpath a zestful affair for the young and old alike on Sunday.
Not deterred by the fog which enveloped the city in the morning, thousands of people, many of them youngsters and even small children, flocked to the Rajpath boulevard in the heart of the national capital early in morning to ensure they gabbed a good seat to watch the Republic Day parade.
Cheering loudly as the first bleak rays of the sun peeked through the fog around 9.15 a.m., the spectators wrapped in pullovers and overcoats and with their heads covered with woollen caps and mufflers were heard thanking the "sun god" for paying a visit.
Most of the youth an IANS correspondent spoke to at Rajpath said they felt a surge of national pride at witnessing the event live and asserted that it should be continued and valued.
"I have especially come here from Chandigarh to watch the Republic Day parade. This is the first time I am going to watch it, and I am extremely excited," 17-year-old Simer Singh said.
"It is an honour to be a part of the celebrations, even while being a spectator. The celebrations should continue every year," the student added.
Like Simer, many other youngsters were seen revelling in the celebrations and applauding enthusiastically as every marching contingent and colourful tableau passed by.
"You get to experience it once a year. Despite it being an old tradition, there is something exciting about the Republic Day. It gives us a chance to appreciate the hard work put in by our soldiers," Komal Haldua, a 16-year-old student from Mayur Vihar said.
Though this was Haldua's first live experience of the parade, she said she makes it a point to watch it on the television every year.
Appreciating the vibrant tableaux, 10-year-old Sugam Aggarwal said that waking up early in the morning on a Sunday for a change in order to go to watch the parade was not a "task".
"I woke up at 5 a.m. today to be at the venue on time. I loved the state tableaux as you learn a lot about the different places in our country, its culture and folk art," Aggarwal said.
"It is a great feeling to be here," he added.
Pledging to come to watch the parade every year if the circumstances permit, Epsa Diya Bhatia jumped and clapped excitedly, watching the flypast and aerobatic maneuverings of the Indian Air Force jets as they roared overhead to bring the 90-minute proceedings to a close.
"It was amazing. Until today, I had seen the parade on the television. It feels so different to be here and be a part of it," the 11-year-old gushed.
For some, this year's Republic Day parade was a "childhood dream come true".
"I have only dreamt of watching the celebrations live, but somehow it never materialised. Thanks to my nephews, I finally got to enjoy it along with others," said homemaker Rishu Gupta, 25.
However, she added that next time she will ensure that they reach well ahead of time to grab "strategically placed" seats in the front rows to ensure the best view of the parade.