New Delhi: Beating the Retreat ceremony, which marks the culmination of Republic Day celebrations, took place at the Vijay Chowk here on Wednesday, lifting spirit and patriotic fervor of the spectators as 14 military bands performed with traditional grandeur.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defense General Bipin Rawat and three service chiefs and several other dignitaries were present at the ceremony.
The brass bands of forces with instruments like the trumpet, the clarinet, the trombone, the saxophone, the flute and the cymbals, apart from the bugle and the drums, performed various western and Indian marches and hymns. A Similarly, the pipe bands, playing the bagpipes, the single tenor drums, the bass drum, the highland snare drums, performed in complete synergy.
Martial music, which once comprised of only Western items, has over the years been successful in introducing Indian tunes to its list.
The Indian Air Force band performed ‘Air Force color’ composed by MWO J.A. George, ‘Inspirato’ composed by Wing Commander G. Jayachandran, ‘Sarang’ composed by Flying Officer Rupachandra and ‘Subroto’, dedicated to former force chief Subroto Mukherjee, again composed by George.
The Indian Naval Band performed ‘Samundra Manthan’, composed by Commander J. Rodrigues, ‘Sagar Prahari Bal’ composed by Mohan Chetry and ‘Jai Bharti’ again composed by Rodrigues.
While the IAF band enthralled the crowd with forming a fighter jet in center of Vijay Chowk, the Navy formed a sailing boat ensign.
The Indian Army band performed ‘Shanti Path’ and ‘Vijay Stambh’, both composed by Major Vimal Joshi, and ‘Bharat Mahan’ composed by Major Ashok Kumar.
The massed bands performed quick march ‘General Tappy’, dedicated to late army chief, Gen T.N. Raina, composed by Subedar L.B. Gurung. As always, the traditional ‘Drummers Call’, featuring massed drummers, and hymn ‘Abide with Me’ was played beautifully, before the bands marched away, playing ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’.
The Central Armed Police Force Band formed ‘MHA’ ensign while playing different tunes.
“Watching Beating the Retreat, filled my heart with pride. Especially, when ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha’ is played,” said spectator Ajay Chaudhary.
‘Vande Matram’ was dropped despite being on the playlist until few days ago.
As the strains of music died away, the most visually appealing part – lighting up the Rashtrapati Bhavan and adjoining buildings – awed the spectators.
Marking a centuries-old military tradition, when the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield at sunset at the sounding of the retreat, ‘Beating the Retreat’ has emerged as an event of national pride when the colours and standards of various formations are paraded.
The present 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.