NEW DELHI: Captain Tania Shergill, who led an all-men contingent at the Republic Day parade on Sunday, gave many girls goosebumps in the huge crowd at Rajpath.
The all-women motorcycle team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) also won hearts with their daredevilry and many young women felt pumped up and inspired after watching them.
Gill and the CRPF team, among others represented the 'Nari Shakti' at the ceremonial event, and the charm rubbed off on to many in the crowd.
Aarushi Goyal, 16, a class 12 student of the Delhi Public School, Indirapuram, said, she had "found her idol" in Capt Shergill, a fourth-generation Army officer, who led the marching contingent of the Corps of Signals.
Wearing a khaki uniform and holding a ceremonial sword, as the 26-year-old trailblazer officer of the Corps of Signals marched down the Rajpath, she was the cynosure of all eyes.
"The sight of her (shergill) leading the men, as she strode confidently, gave me goosebumps. I stood up, closed my eyes and held my breath...It was kind of surreal for me," Goyal said, adding that "from kitchen work to armed forces, women have come a long way".
The Hoshiarpur-born officer had recently created history by becoming the first woman Parade Adjutant to lead an all-men contingents during the Army Day function on January 15.
A graduate of the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, she added another feather to her cap on Sunday, saying, it was a feeling of "immense honour and great pride, a sense of achievement and worthiness, and absolute blessing".
The CRPF team too drew loud applause and stunned looks from the crowd, as its members performed daredevil stunts on Rajpath.
Diksha Chaudhary, 19, in the crowd, stood atop her chair, clapped and whistled when the all-women team zipped down the Rajpath in an astonishing display of courage.
As women personnel formed human pyramid on Royal Enfield motorcycles, Chaudhary, shouted "Jai Hind", saluted the soldiers and murmured to her friend, "Yaar ye karna hai ha ( I wish to do this)."
"I am so moved and inspired...I am preparing for exams to join Haryana Police, but this has changed my mind. I will join CRPF now," said Chaudhary, who herself has driven a motorcycle to Delhi.
Mahima Chug, 16, captured the moments in her camera as the team displayed its gravity-defying acrobatic skills on Bullet motorcycles towards the end of the ceremonial parade.
Chug, a vice-captain in a Noida-based private school, said, "I will paste the photos I have taken today on the walls of my room and draw inspiration from them.
There's nothing women cannot do." The team was led by Inspector Seema Nag, who performed the 'VIP Salute' standing atop a moving motorcycle.
Other members performed 'Pistol Position on Move', 'Rifle positions', CRPG Flag March', 'All Round Defence', 'Beam Roll', Ladder Climbing' and 'Human Pyramid'.
Punjab-born Gill, who holds a B.Tech in electronics and telecommunications from Nagpur University said her great-grandfather had taken part in World War I.
"He (great-grandfather) was part of the Sikh Regiment and had taken part in the Burma theatre.
My maternal grandfather also belonged to the same regiment, while my paternal grandfather belonged to the 14th Armoured Regiment (Scinde Horse) and my father served in the artillery regiment.
Army life runs in the family," she said.
Last year, woman officer Bhavana Kasturi, then a lieutenant, had for the first time led an all-male Army Service Corps (ASC) contingent during the Republic Day parade.
Asked what message she had to give to young women who are chasing their dreams, Gill said, "When we don the uniform, we are just 'faujis' (jawans or officers), gender is immaterial, all that matters is merit.
Caste, creed, or any other thing also doesn't matter in the Army".
"And girls and women chasing their dreams should just believe in themselves. It doesn't matter if some people think they are any less than boys and men. I would tell them just focus on your goals and pursue the goals with passion," she said.