Bisaan (Haryana), July 31, 2014 (Agency)
As General Dalbir Singh Suhag took over the reins of the fourth largest army in the world Thursday, a village in Haryana's Jhajjar district was collecting ammunition of a different kind - over 150 kg of ladoos and about 5,000 crackers.
For residents of Bisaan village, located about 85 km from New Delhi, it was a day they had been waiting for. Celebrations began with distribution of ladoos and bursting of crackers as a simple village boy Thursday went on to be Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
Even as his proud parents, Ramphal Singh and Ishri Devi, both aged above 80 years, were away in New Delhi to be part of their son's elevation, the villagers expressed happiness in their own way.
"We are distributing ladoos and bursting crackers. One amongst us has gone on to head the Indian Army. It is a great achievement for him and a proud moment for all of us," said Rajvir, a relative of the new Indian Army chief.
Father Ramphal Singh, a foot soldier of the army who retired as a Subedar, had dreamt that his son would become an army officer. Little did he realise that he would end up heading the 1.3 million-strong army!
Born in this village, young Dalbir Singh joined the Sainik School in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, and qualified for the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla. He was commissioned into the 4/5 Gurkha Rifles in 1974.
Despite the controversy over his appointment as army chief, Dalbir Singh's name was confirmed by the Narendra Modi government that took power in May.
He took over as army chief Thursday following the retirement of General Bikram Singh.
The enthusiasm of the residents of Bisaan village was visible to all visitors. A 12-member committee has been formed to welcome him to Bissan village whenever he decides to visit.
"We will set up a welcome gate outside the village. He will be welcomed with great fanfare. Everyone is happy about his elevation," said Rajpal Singh, head of the committee.
Even though Dalbir Singh did not stay much in the village after his initial years, a handful of villagers remember the time he spent here.
"He is very fond of 'churma' (bread kneaded in sugar and ghee). We even kept a buffalo at home so that he could have fresh milk and home-made ghee," Ishri Devi, the new army chief's mother, told the media earlier.
The modest village house owned by the parents of the new army chief has been given a fresh coat of paint. The celebrations, it seems, have just begun.