'Change of Guard' ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan for public viewing

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New Delhi, Dec 14 (UNI) A repackaged and innovative ceremony of 'Change of Guard' by the President's Bodyguard at the sprawling and majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan will be open to the public from tomorrow.

While the ceremony at the President's official residence has been performed every day ever since the Rashtrapati Bhavan came into existence, it is only now that it has been reinvented to suit the public's taste with a view to making it an "unforgettable spectacle." The ceremony is to be performed every Saturday from 0800 to 0830 hrs in summers and 1000 to 1030 hrs in winters.

The idea is also to bring this on the itinerary of the ever growing tourist traffic. Tour operators and other agencies involved in the tourist promotion traffic have been informed about it, Secretary to the President Christy Fernandes told a press conference here.

Mr Fernandes said the initiative has been taken at the instance of President Pratibha Devisingh Patil who has a "caring attitude'' and would like to bring people closer to Rashtrapati Bhavan with a view to unfolding the mystery that it is to the common man.

He said the President has also outlined several other initiatives in this regard, including the establishment of the 'Nakshatra' garden in the Bhavan, enabling larger number of cultural events, permitting a larger number of visitors, excluding the core area, to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and enhancing the welfare activities that are going on in the place.

The ceremony includes inspection of the New Guard, nomination of the sentries, a formal march to take post and an exchange of compliments by the Guards.

A formal military ritual, the Ceremony is coming together of smartly-attired soldiers of the impressive Army Guard and statuesque President's Bodyguard Troopers, astride their caprisioned, sleeky muscled, powerful and exquistely groomed steeds.

The regal bearing and hard training of the noble mounts of the President's Bodyguard will be greatly enhanced by their superb ceremonial equipage, heavily embroidered saddle clothes, ceremonial bridles. The intention is to lend rare dignity and spectacle of incomparable colour and pagentry at the Ceremonial Parade.

A zestful Band and the impressive arrival and dispersal of the guard is intended to make the event an unforgetable experience.

The ceremony will begin at the iron gate Number one sandwiched between the North and South Blocks. The public will follow the parade right up to the ground outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Mr Fernandes said similar cermonies are on in several countries, most notably the one performed every day at the Buckingham Palace.

He said a large crowd gathers in London to watch the centuries-old event linked with the Throne of England.

'Change of the Guard' is a military tradition whose origins are lost in antiquity. From time immemorial, guards and sentries at Forts, Palaces and Defence Establishments change periodically to enable a fresh body of soldiers takes charge. It is only now that an event of such high distinction will become familiar to the man on the street in India.

"Rashtrapati Bhavan epitomises India's democracy," Mr Fernandes said.

Democracy after all is by the people, of the people and for the people! UNI GS RL GC1840

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