New Delhi: As the sun prepared to hide behind the Raisina Hill, silhouettes of men astride horses appeared on top of the Hill. It was the Presidents Bodyguard strutting down to the Vijay Chowk flanking the Presidents limousine for Beating the Retreat ceremony.
The Vice President, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries had already arrived at the Vijay Chowk and the threes services chiefs stood in rapt attention waiting for the Supreme Commander of the Indian armed forces.
The ceremony on January 29 every year, which creates nostalgia for the times gone by, marks the culmination of the Republic Day celebrations.
This year, Indian tunes were the flavour of as many as 27 performances, with 19 tunes composed by Indian musicians from the Army, Navy, Air Force, police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).
The Indian tunes included ‘Indian Star’, ‘Paharon ki Rani’, ‘Kumaoni Geet’, ‘Jai Janam Bhumi’, ‘Queen of Satpura’, ‘Marooni’, ‘Vijay’, ‘Soldier-My Valentine’, ‘Bhupal’, ‘Vijay Bharat’, ‘Aakash Ganga’, ‘Gangotri’, ‘Namaste India’, ‘Samudrika’, ‘Jai Bharat’, ‘Young India’, ‘Veerta Ki Misal’, ‘Amar Senani’ and ‘Bhumiputra’.
The eight Western tunes were ‘Fanfare by Buglers’, ‘Sound Barrier’, ‘Emblazoned’, ‘Twilight’, ‘Alert (Post Horn Gallop)’, ‘Space Flight’, ‘Drummers Call’ and ‘Abide with Me’.
‘Beating the 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.
The present ceremony traces its origins to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands.
The colourful event came to a close with the marching bands tapping their way back to the tune of ‘Sare Jahan Se Achcha’ amid thumping applause from the audience.
The BSF camels along with armed troopers that were stationed on the facade of the North and South Blocks made their way back to the camp.
As soon as the sun went down, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block, South Block and Parliament House building were illuminated with dynamic lights that kept changing colour and brightness.