Tunes by Indian musicians, foot-tapping drumbeats and calming chimes reverberated the air as the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan lit up at sunset marking the end of the 66th Republic Day celebrations with ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony at Vijay Chowk on Thursday.
Indian tunes were the flavour of this year’s ceremony including ‘Vir Bharat’, ‘Chhana Bilauri’, ‘Jai Janam Bhumi’ and ‘Athulya Bharat’ which garnered a large round of applause from the viewers.
Tunes of Hindi songs ‘Aie mere vatan ke logon’, ‘Maa Tujhe salam’ and ‘kandhon se milte hain kandhen’ also sent the spectators into a time-warp.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari accompanied by his wife Salma, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several other dignitaries watched as the bands from several regiments of the armed forces played.
Mukherjee, the chief guest of the function and the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, came from the Rashtrapati Bhavan in his armoured limousine unlike last year when he had arrived in an open six-horse buggy which was used by the Viceroy during the British rule.
His arrival was sounded by trumpeters, buglers and echo buglers followed by playing of national anthem.20 of the 23 performances were composed by Indian musicians for the hour-long ceremony in which bands of the Indian Army, as also one each from the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, participated.
The band members, in their red, olive green, orange and navy blue uniforms, played the tunes for an hour before the flag was lowered amid retreat by buglers.
The principal conductor of the Beating Retreat ceremony was Major Girish Kumar U while military bands conductor were Subedar Suresh Kumar and Navy and Air Force bands commander was Master Chief Petty Officer (Musician-I) Ramesh Chand.
Buglers performed under the leadership of Subedar Prabhakaran and pipes and drums bands played under the instructions of Subedar Mitter Dev.
Seventeen military bands, 10 pipes and drums bands from regimental centres and 8 pipes and drums bands from battalions, buglers and trumpeters from various army regiments performed at the ceremony.
‘Beating the Retreat’ is a centuries old military tradition dating from the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset.
As soon as the buglers sounded the Retreat, the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield.
It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of ‘retreat’ has been retained to this day.
Based on these military traditions, the ceremony creates a nostalgia for the times gone by.
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, camel-mounted troops on regalia atop Raisina Hill retreated along with the bands. The corridors of power were basking in magnificent lights bringing the 66th Republic Day celebrations to a conclusion.