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What is Beating Retreat Ceremony


The Prime Minister attended the Beating Retreat Ceremony.


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of this article:

  1. What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?
  2. How has the ceremony evolved?

What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?

  • Beating Retreat is a centuries-old military tradition going back to the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset. As soon as the buglers sounded the ‘retreat’, troops ceased fighting and withdrew from the battlefield.
  • It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of the ‘retreat’ has been retained to this day.
  • The ceremony is conducted every year on January 29 at Vijay Chowk to mark the formal conclusion of the Republic Day celebrations.
  • The ceremony is graced by the President of India as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
  • It is marked by the lowering of flags at dusk.
  • A series of lights illuminate the outlines of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North Block, South Block and Parliament House.
  • It is an event much awaited by the public and always inspires awe.

How has the ceremony evolved?

  • For a long time, it was only the Services bands that took part in the ceremony in line with military traditions.
  • Recently that the musical bands of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and the Delhi Police were included.
  • Until last year the ceremony came to a close with ‘Abide With Me’, the popular 19th century Christian hymn, followed by the ever-popular tune ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’, which was played as the bands marched out.
    • Abide With Me was one of Mahatma Gandhi’s personal favourites.
    • The Father of the Nation first heard the piece played by Mysore Palace Band, and could not forget its tenderness and serenity.
  • However, this year ‘Abide With Me’ has been dropped and a popular Indian tune ‘Ae mera watan ke logon’, which was  composed by C. Ramachandra for which Kavi Pradeep provided lyrics, has been included.
  • Also, all the tunes this year are Indian to coincide with the 75th year of Independence.
  • In the last few years, in addition to military instruments like pipes and drums, traditional Indian musical instruments have also been included.
  • This year, 44 buglers, 16 trumpeters and 75 drummers will enthral the audience during the Beating Retreat.
  • In a first this year, there is a drone show with over 1,000 drones built by an Indian start-up as well as a laser projection.


February 2024