“Beating Retreat” is an old military tradition, dating back to the 16th century England when the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield at the sounding of the Retreat and returned to their camps or castles, lowered their flags and cased their Colours and Standards.
On June 18, 1690, James II (England and Ireland) who was also the King of Scotland as James VII, had his drums beaten as an order for his troops to retreat. Later in 1694, an order from William III read “The Drum Major and Drummers of the Regiment which gives a Captain of the Main Guard are to beat the Retreat through the large street, or as may be ordered. They are to be answered by all the Drummers of the guards and by four Drummers of each Regiment in their respective Quarters“.
In the early 1950s, Major G.A. Roberts from the Grenadier battalion of the Indian army was asked to develop the “Beating Retreat’ ceremony as part of a military tattoo to display the musical prowess of massed bands comprising pipers, drummers, buglers and trumpeters from various regiment bands of the Army, Air Force and Navy.
The Indian Republic Day festivities officially culminate with the resplendent and colourful “Beating Retreat Ceremony” conducted on the evening of January 29, the third day after the Republic Day by the massed bands of the three wings of the military: the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy, along with the Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police enthral the crowd with their exceptionally captivating foot-tapping music.
The venue is Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the north and south block of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, towards the end of Rajpath.
On February 29, 2019, sixteen military bands, sixteen pipes and drums bands from regimental centres and battalions of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the State Police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) participated in the Beating Retreat ceremony.
Out of the 27 tunes played eight were western and 19 were composed by Indian musicians.
The western tunes were: ‘Fanfare by Buglers’, ‘Sound Barrier’, ‘Emblazoned’, ‘Twilight’, ‘Alert (Post Horn Gallop)’, ‘Space Flight’, ‘Drummers Call’ and ‘Abide with me’.
The Indian tunes were: ‘Indian Star’, ‘Paharonki Rani’, ‘KumaoniGeet’, ‘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’.
As usual, the event came to a close with the ever-popular tune of ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’.
Here is a video of the “Beating Retreat 2019 – Annual musical extravaganza” posted by Doordarshan National on YouTube:
- Beating Retreat (en.wikipedia.org)
- James II of England (en.wikipedia.org)
- Curtain Raiser – Beating the Retreat 2019 (pib.nic.in)
- ‘Desi’ tunes to add special flavour to this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony (indiatoday.in)
- Beating Retreat 2019: Things to Know About The Ceremony (ndtv.com)