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Beating the Retreat ceremony held in Delhi

The four-day long celebrations of the 70th Republic Day concluded on January 29, 2019 with Beating the Retreat ceremony, which was held at the historic Vijay Chowk in New Delhi.

Jan 29, 2019 18:46 IST
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The four-day long celebrations of the 70th Republic Day concluded on January 29, 2019 with 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony, which was held at the historic Vijay Chowk in New Delhi.

The Beating Retreat' 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. The ceremony began with the arrival of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind guarded by his well decorated bodyguards.

Key Highlights

This year, Indian tunes were the flavour of ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony.

The ceremony witnessed as many as 27 spectacular performances by the bands from the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the State Police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).

Out of the 27 performances, 19 tunes were composed by Indian musicians, which include Indian Star, Paharon ki Rani, Jai Janam Bhumi, Queen of Satpura, Vijay Bharat, Aakash Ganga, Gangotri, Namaste India, Samudrika, Jai Bharat, Young India, and Veerta Ki Misal.

Eight western tunes such as Sound Barrie’, Twilight, Space Flight, Drummers Call were also a part of the ceremony.

The event was brought to a close with the ever-popular tune of Sare Jahan se Acha.

Overall this year, 15 Military Bands, 15 Pipes and Drums Bands from Regimental Centres and Battalions participated in the Beating Retreat ceremony.

Besides this, one band each of the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force band and bands from the State Police and CAPF comprising Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and Delhi Police also took part in the ceremony.

Beating Retreat

  Beating the Retreat ceremony held in Delhi

Beating Retreat is a military ceremony dating to 16th century England and was first used to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle.

In India, it officially denotes the end of Republic Day festivities. It is conducted on the evening of January 29, the third day after the Republic Day.

It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force and pipe bands from the Army, and from 2016 a massed formation of bands of the Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police.

The venue of the ceremony each year is Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the North and South blocks of the Central Secretariat and the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Palace) towards the end of Rajpath.

The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India who arrives escorted by the President's Bodyguards (PBG), a cavalry unit.

When the President begins to arrive, a fanfare is sounded by the trumpeters of the Brigade of the Guards on their fanfare trumpets, and then the PBG commander asks the unit to give the National Salute, which is followed by the playing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by the Massed Bands and at the same time by the unfurling of the Flag of India on the flagpole right at the Vijay Chowk.

The ceremony traces its origins back to the early 1950s when Major GA Roberts better known as Robbie from Grenadier battalion of the Indian army was asked to develop the ceremony of display by the massed bands. The bands from Army, Air Force and Navy consisting of pipes, drums, buglers and trumpeters from various regiments had taken part then.

This legacy was a handover of British influence. However, when British Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were visiting India for the first time after independence, the then Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru summoned Roberts asking him to do something spectacularly creative and eventful for the Queen's visit.

That is when the Beating Retreat was officially conceived in honour of the visit. Thereafter it became official ceremony to have a Head of State of a country as the chief guest and that year the Beating Retreat was in their honour.

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