Republic Day 21-Gun Salute: What Does It Mean?

This year marks our 74th Republic Day, since the first proclamation of the Constitution on 26 January 1950.

Across the nation festivities are held in honor of this special day, especially those taking place at the Rajpath in Delhi.

Our traditional Republic Day procession follows a customary sequence with incomparable finesse and orderliness.

Every event within this program symbolizes a significant part of our history.

One moment that fills us with great pride is the 21-gun salute performed to laud our President and our national flag. Let’s learn more about this honor.

What Is The Historical Significance Of The 21-Gun Salute?

Republic Day 21-Gun Salute What Does It Mean (1) (1)
Republic Day 21-Gun Salute What Does It Mean (1) (1)

The 21-gun salute is the highest honor given to a person or object on a certain occasion.

As a form of military salute, it is executed by firing cannons of artillery to show respect and is inherited from the British Empire.

On several occasions, the 21 Gun salute is rendered to the President of the Republic of India as the Head of State.

After the swearing-in ceremony, a salute is presented to the newly elected President of India.

On Independence Day and Republic Day, the 21-gun salute is presented to the Indian National Flag and the President.

Who Performs The 21-Gun Salute?

Republic Day 21-Gun Salute: What Does It Mean?
Republic Day 21-Gun Salute: What Does It Mean?

The centuries-old military salute involves firing guns or artillery in the air shortly after the flag is unfurled.

Three successive rounds of seven cannons each synchronize the time with the 52-second National Anthem.

At the red fort, the roaring of 21 rounds of artillery firing coupled with our national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana” is the most cherished and proud moment.

The well-coordinated gun salute is performed by 7 artillery cannons of the elite 2281 Field Regiment at Delhi Cantonment.

The Evolution Of The 21 Gun Salute

The Evolution Of The 21 Gun Salute
The Evolution Of The 21 Gun Salute

In India, this tradition of honor dates back to the British era.

India introduced the gun salute, where the number of gun salutes represented the post hierarchy.

Britishers devised a formal ranking system that entitles individuals and states to a certain number of gun salutes.

Historical Backing Of 21 Gun Salute

Before ships touched any foreign shore, sailors fired artillery to demonstrate that they did not intend to harm.

Since reloading the artillery was time-consuming, the vessel fired all its cannons even before the coastline was out of sight.

This alerted the coastal defenders about the approaching ship and allowed them sufficient time to destroy it if they so desired.

Fired cannons, however, represented the approaching ship’s peaceful intent.

Where Did The Concept of No. 21 Originate From And Why?

Where Did The Concept of No. 21 Originate From And Why?

Some sailors believed that odd numbers were lucky, so British navy ships carried seven cannons each.

There are also those who chose the number 7 due to its significance in the Bible.

In response to the naval ships firing their seven cannons, the coastal defense fired three guns for each of the seven cannons, totaling 21 guns.

By firing from the land, they communicated their peaceful intent and welcomed the ship. Therefore, this was a mechanism for communicating each other’s peaceful intentions.

When a foreign Head-of-State visits India, guns are fired on Republic Day, the swearing-in of the honorable President.

Final Thoughts

Republic Day 21-Gun Salute: What Does It Mean?
Republic Day 21-Gun Salute: What Does It Mean?

So this is what the booming of the 21 rounds of artillery signifies. On Republic Day, we are reminded of our constitution’s rules.

Rules are not meant to bind anyone but to guide us in the right direction to grow and evolve.

Taking pride in our constitution that helped us shape our future and gave us wings to sail in the right direction is a good way to celebrate the power of rules today.

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