This year’s Republic Day parade on January 26 will feature India’s rich cultural legacy and diversity, emphasising the nation as the “mother of democracy” and including a strong female presence. Instead of the military band as in the past, 100 female performers will play Indian musical instruments to open the parade for the first time, according to Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane’s announcement on Friday. French President Emmanuel Macron will be the special guest when French Rafale fighter planes and a French marching contingent perform a first for another nation over the Kartavya Path.

For the first time, a delegation of 144 women from three different services will march in the parade: 48 ladies from each service. During the fly-past, the C-295 medium transport aircraft, the newest addition to the Indian Air Force (IAF), will also make its debut over the Kartavya Path. There will be 1,300 or more women performing across all cultural genres, which is a record number of women ever. Approximately 13,000 exceptional individuals from diverse areas and those who have excelled through government initiatives will also be invited as special guests to the parade.

“Viksit Bharat” and “Bharat — Loktantra ki Matruka” are this year’s parade’s central themes, and the media was informed by Mr. Aramane that some 13,000 special visitors from all over India had been invited to watch the march. In order to give individuals from all walks of life the chance to “take part in the national festival, in line with the government’s vision of Jan Bhagidari,” distinguished visitors are being invited.

The parade will also feature a 33-member French band contingent and a 95-member marching troop from France. The Defence Secretary announced that one Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and two Rafale aircraft from the French Air Force will fly past the Indian Air Force’s aircraft.

According to him, women would make up the majority of the marching contingents and the majority of the tableaux representing the various States, Union territories, Central ministries, and organisations that highlight the nation’s rich cultural diversity, unification, and advancement. Mr. Aramane added that “Anant Sutra—the endless thread,” which features around 1,900 sarees and drapes from all over the nation, would be another highlight. “The RD parade will have the most vibrant backdrop ever.”

The Defence Secretary announced that the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) would establish all-women contingents in addition to the tri-Service detachment. “This year’s parade will feature the best representation of women.”

The parade would begin at 10.30 a.m. and last for about ninety minutes. There are 77,000 seats available at Kartavya Path, 42,000 of which are set aside for the general public.