Beating Retreat ceremony: Military bands perform at Vijay Chowk

Beating Retreat

Foot-tapping drumbeats, sing-along martial tunes and calming chimes reverberated the air as the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan lit up at sunset to announce the end of the 64th Republic Day celebrations with ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi on Tuesday, January 29, 2012.

The massed bands played to the famous tunes of ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja’ and ‘Saare Jahan Se Achchha’ among the Indian tunes at the conclusion of the four-day-long ceremony.

As many as 18 of the 23 performances were composed by Indian musicians, while just five popular tunes by foreign musicians have been retained, interspersed four times with ‘Fanfare’, a collage by buglers, and the ‘Drummers’ Call’, a traditional performance by drummers.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and several Union ministers watched in awe as the bands from several regiments of the armed forces played.

Most of the compositions played by military bands were based on Indian tunes. The new composition “Dhola Re Dhola” by Maj Gen K N Bhatt and Maj N Hussain was played in a mesmerising ‘Echo’.

While ‘The Admiral Insignia’ composed by Lt Cdr S K Champion stole the show, the Navy and Air Force bands also performed other enchanting tunes of ‘Man of War’, ‘Evening Breeze’ and ‘Through the Great Ocean’.

Mukherjee, the chief guest of the function and supreme commander of the armed forces, came from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. His arrival was sounded by 14 trumpeters, 32 buglers and 14 echo buglers followed by playing of national anthem.

The band members, in their red, olive green, orange and navy blue uniform, played the tunes for an hour before the flag was lowered amid retreat by buglers.

‘Beating the Retreat’ has emerged as an event of national pride when the Colours and Standards are paraded. The ceremony traces its origins to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army indigenously developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands.

The ceremony marks a centuries-old military tradition, when the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield and returned to the camps at sunset at the sounding of the Retreat.

Colours and Standards are cased and flags lowered. The ceremony creates nostalgia for the times gone by.

Fourteen military bands, six pipes and drums bands from regimental centres and 11 pipes and drums bands from battalions, buglers and trumpeters from various army regiments performed at the ceremony.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Parliament House, the North and South Blocks along with other official buildings in Raisina Hill lit up on the occasion.

As the tricolour was lowered by a military personnel, camel-mounted troops on regalia atop Raisina Hill retreated along with the bands. The corridors of power were lit up in magnificent lights bringing the 64th Republic Day celebrations to a conclusion.



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