Beating The Retreat Ceremony

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Oct 302009

Beating The Retreat Ceremony Festival in Delhi

Beating The Retreat CeremonyThree days after the Republic Day parade, a moving ceremony known as “Beating Retreat” is held at the Vijay Chowk in New Delhi. The ceremony revives an ancient war custom according to which troops used to stop fighting at sunset. Bugles announcing the sunset would sound in the battlefield. As soon as soldiers heard these bugles they would stand still in the battlefield and war would be stopped for the day.

The Republic day celebrations in Delhi commence with a colorful parade on the 26th of January along the Rajpath and come to a close with the ‘Beating the retreat ceremony’ on the 29th of January. Vijay Chowk or the victory square is the site of the ceremony. The ceremony observes a tradition according to which soldiers called a halt to the war at sunset as the sound of the bugles resonated across the battlefield calling a halt to fighting.

The majestic Rastrapati Bhavan serves as the background for the awe-inspiring event held at Vijay Chowk in the heart of New Delhi. The ceremony opens with a parade by select contingents of the armed forces set to scintillating performances by the various armed forces bands. The parade climaxes with all the bands playing in unison. As the bands fall silent, a lone trumpeter picks up the moving tune ‘Siki a mole’. After this performance the hymn ‘Abide with me’ is played by the Massed Bands.This hymn, said to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite, is a permanent feature of the ceremony. At exactly 6 pm, the buglers sound the retreat and the National Flag is lowered to the National Anthem bringing the Republic Day celebrations to a formal end. One by one, the camels and the riders who stand stone-like throughout against the backdrop of the sky, move away from the background.

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