Daredevils, balloons and bangles for Indian Independence Day

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Indian servicemen stand in colourful formation during Independence Day celebrations

Indian servicemen stand in colourful formation during Independence Day celebrations (AFP Photo/Biju BORO)

India became a sea of saffron, white and green Thursday as the nation of 1.3 billion celebrated Independence Day in characteristically colourful fashion.

India became independent from colonial power Britain on August 15, 1947. Towards midnight Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister, had made his famous "tryst with destiny" speech.

"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom," Nehru said.

August 15 is now a public holiday celebrated every year.

This year, as Narendra Modi, the current premier, visited a memorial to independence hero Mahatma Gandhi before hoisting the tricolour in a New Delhi newly drenched by monsoon rains.

He spoke against a backdrop of the imposing Red Fort, commissioned in 1638 by the emperor Shah Jahan and completed a decade later.

Flags were also hoisted all over the vast country while in Bangalore, ballons festooned the streets.

In Amritsar members of the army's Daredevils Team rode their motorcycles in formation and performed stunts such as jumping through rings of fire.

In Secunderabad the Indian Railway Protection Force (RPF) dog squad, in immaculate white gloves, sash and headdress, put their pooches through their paces.