Three nations, which stood beside Bangladesh since before its independence, took part in the Victory Day grand parade, marking the first ever participation of foreign troops in the ceremony.
Military contingents from three foreign countries -- India, Russia and Bhutan -- joined the parade starting from the National Parade Square in the city at 10:30am to observe the 51st Victory Day of the country.
Bhutan was the first country to recognise Bangladesh as an independent state and India's role, both military and diplomatic, to the cause of Independence is well-documented. Meanwhile, on the diplomatic front, Russia lent its support by twice vetoing UN Security Council resolutions calling for a prompt ceasefire and withdrawal of Indian troops, which bought enough time to script a victory in the final stages of the war.
The United States and Mexico also sent military observer groups which, too, took part in the parade.
The foreign troops joined contingents of Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force as well as Freedom Fighters, paramilitary forces, law enforcement agencies and various ministries of the government.
The contingents of the three countries took part in the march-past, while their own military music bands and their officers led the troops and saluted Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, who was present on the occasion, alongside Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
President Hamid, also supreme commander of the armed forces, acknowledged the salute at the ceremony from a dais while Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, as the guest of honour, was also present on the occasion.
President of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies Major General (retd) ANM Moniruzzaman said, "The celebration of Victory Day of Bangladesh with the participation of army members from different countries is a positive thing. It is positive because this is a significant moment in the history of any nation and the participation of friendly countries carries a special meaning."
The parade was organised and conducted by the 9th Infantry Division of the Bangladesh Army under the supervision of the Armed Forces Division with the directives of the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.
On December 16, 1971, Bangladesh was born as an independent country under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the cost of supreme sacrifice of three million people and 200,000 Biranganas. On this day, Bangladesh triumphed over the occupying Pakistani forces, which surrendered after the nine month-long Liberation War.
A victory like no other
Bangladesh pulled out all stops to observe 50 years of its victory and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in remembrance and celebration.
The country wore a festive look, with the proceedings beginning with President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paying rich tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War and placing wreaths at the National Memorial in the capital's outskirts Savar this morning, marking the 51st Victory Day.
On the occasion of Victory Day, President of India Ram Nath Kovind joined the people of the country to celebrate the day and pay homage to Bangabandhu.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also paid homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the morning.
Adding a further sheen, this year's Victory Day coincided with the two major celebrations -- the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of the country's independence.
Marking the two celebrations, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee has taken up a two-day special programme titled "The Great Hero of the Great Victory" at the South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad in the city from December 16 to 17.
Meanwhile, Hasina administered the oath of office to the nation at 4:30pm as part of the Victory Day celebrations. AL leaders and activists participated in the oath-taking ceremony at the South Plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad.
The PM released a commemorative postage stamp marking the golden jubilee of the country's victory and the day of surrender by the Pakistani occupation forces.
The premier also released another commemorative postage stamp on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and unveiled a logo inscribed with "Mujib's Bangladesh", the brand name of the Bangladesh Tourism Board.
Hasina attended the ceremonies from her official Ganabhaban residence, according to a message issued from the PM's press wing.
The day's programmes taken at national levels marking the Victory Day began with placing of wreaths at monuments to pay homage to martyrs, hoisting of the national flags atop all government, semi-government and private offices, as well as offices of autonomous bodies across the country.
City streets were decorated with miniature national flags and colourful festoons, while important buildings, establishments, roads and median strips were draped with lighting at night.
Leaders of Awami League, members of Bir Sreshthos, wounded freedom fighters and Bir Muktijoddhas, foreign diplomats, and different political and social organisations, alongside people from all walks of life, paid rich tributes to the martyrs.
Besides, a discussion on the best utilisation of digital technology and upholding the spirit of the Liberation War in building Sonar Bangla as dreamt by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was held on the occasion.
Receptions will be accorded to valiant freedom fighters and family members of martyrs in the metropolis, districts and upazilas across the country.
Following the health guidelines, special prayers will be offered at mosques and other places of worship, seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of the martyrs of the Liberation War and peace, progress and prosperity for the country.
All children parks and museums across the country remained open for all and Liberation War based movies screened at the cinema halls free of cost on the day.
A poster exhibition and historical documentary screening was held at Swadhinata Stambha and Underground Museum at the Suhrawardy Udyan in the city.
Similar programmes were taken at district and upazila levels as well as Bangladesh missions abroad, highlighting the significance of the day.
The president and prime minister earlier also issued separate messages on the occasion, paying glowing tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War in 1971.
At the second session of the programme, a discussion was held with PM Hasina in the chair.
President Hamid was there as the chief guest, while his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind was the guest of honour at the discussion.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque and Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury spoke at the event while Chief Coordinator of the implementation committee Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury delivered the welcome speech.
Marking the day, special food was served to inmates of jails, hospitals, orphanages and the homeless homes across the country.
Besides, various political, social and cultural organisations, including the Bangladesh Awami League, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangla Academy, National Museum, Liberation War Museum, Bangladesh Shishu Academy, celebrated the day with different programmes.
On December 17, a cultural function will be organised on the Sangsad premises around 5:30pm.
The party will also bring out a victory rally from Suhrawardy Udyan marking the golden jubilee of the victory at 2:30pm on December 18, which will end at the historic Bangabandhu Bhaban in the city's Dhanmondi-32.