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Republic Day celebration: Cultural heritage, military might on displayed

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New Delhi (Jan. 26, 2015): In the presence of US President Barack Obama as the Chief Guest, India Monday displayed its military might and rich cultural diversity during the dazzling 66th Republic Day parade in the Capital which was wrapped in an unprecedented security cover.

Obama was the first ever US President to attend the parade as Chief Guest on the second day of his three-day visit, as light rains and overcast skies failed to dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of spectators who gathered along the Rajpath to watch the pomp-filled spectacle.

Dressed in a dark suit, Obama was seated next to Modi, as the two leaders chatted and soaked up the splendour that unfolded on the rain-soaked parade route. Obama was also seen holding his umbrella for a while.

A smiling US President was seen nodding in appreciation on several occasions and gave a thumbs up to the BSF daredevils--famed for their formation of a human pyramid on moving bikes--during their display of daring motorcycle stunts that was a showstopper.

Smartly attired all-female units from the Army, Navy and Air Force marched for the first time in this year's parade, as the country's military hardware with carnival-style floats featuring achievements in diverse fields as well as tribal dancers and traditional music rolled past in a show of 'unity in diversity'.

In a departure from tradition for the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade, Obama arrived in his own highly-secured bomb-proof vehicle, 'The Beast,' at Rajpath. The crowd erupted in cheers as the Obamas emerged from the limousine.

Obama and Michelle sat in a special glass enclosure along with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Hamid Ansari and his wife, and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar among other dignitaries. Michelle also smiled broadly at dance performance by young children.