Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Beating Retreat, officially denotes the end of Republic Day festivities, History of Beating Retreat, known as watch setting and was initiated at sunset by the firing of a single round from the evening gun, The Chief Guest of the function, compound march, popular marching tunes, the Foot Guards Bands, the bands of the three wings of the military, 'Sare Jahan Se Achchha' - Hindi Patriotic Song

Beating Retreat is a military ceremony dating back to 16th century England and was first used in order to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle.

Originally it was known as watch setting and was initiated at sunset by the firing of a single round from the evening gun.

An order from the army of James II (England), otherwise James VII of Scotland dated to 18 June 1690 had his drums beating an order for his troops to retreat and a later order, from William III in 1694 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". However, either or both orders may refer to the ceremonial tattoo.

For the first time ever, a Foreign band was allowed to play at the Beating Retreat on 5 June 2008. This band was that of the 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment, who had been helping to guard London, by mounting guards at the palaces. Amongst their performance pieces were arrangements of number of well known pieces from Film.

 In India it officially denotes the end of Republic Day festivities. It is conducted on the evening of January 29, the third day after the Republic Day. It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The venue is Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, flanked by the north and south block of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's house).

The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India who arrives escorted by the 'President's Bodyguards' (PBG), a cavalry unit. When the President arrives, the PBG commander asks the unit to give the National Salute, which is followed by the playing of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by the Massed Bands, and at the same time by the unfurling of the Flag of India on the flagpole.

The ceremony starts by the massed bands of the three services marching in unison, playing popular marching tunes like Colonel Bogey and Sons of the Brave. The Fanfare then is followed by the bands of the Indian Army marching forward in quick time, then breaking into slow time, then by the 'compound march' involving movements to form intricate and beautiful patterns. The military band, again, breaks into quick time and goes back to the farthest end of Raisina Hills. Then the Pipes and Drums of the Indian Army play traditional Scottish tunes and Indian tunes like "Gurkha Brigade", Neer's "Sagar Samraat" and "Chaandni" . This band also does a compound march. The last bands to perform are the combined bands of the Navy and the Air Force. This part of the ceremony ends with their compound march. Not to forget inter services bands beating the retreat during Asian games closing ceremony in New Delhi "ASIAD 82" for which the credit goes to retired Indian Army's Music Director Late Harold Joseph, Indian Navy's Jerome Rogrigues and Indian Navy's M S Neer, one of the greatest musician, conductor, composer and instrumentalist of the Indian Armed Forces bands, who had led the massed bands at ASIAD 82 closing ceremony.

The three band contingents march forward and take position close to the President's seat. The drummers give a solo performance (known as the Drummer's Call). A regular feature of this pageant is the last tune played before the Retreat. It is the famous Christian Hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte, Abide With Me. The chimes made by the tubular bells, placed quite at a distance, creates a mesmerizing ambiance.

This is followed by the bugle call for Retreat, and all the flags are slowly brought down. The band master then marches to the President and requests permission to take the bands away, and informs that the closing ceremony is now complete. The bands march back playing a popular martial tune Saare Jahan Se Achcha. As soon as the bands cross Raisina Hills a spectacular illumination display is set up on the North and South Blocks of the Parliament building. As the PBG's horse mounted troops arrive back in after the bands leave, the band stops to play the National Anthem again as the President receives the final National Salute for the day by the PBG, before the President and the PBG depart with the bands leading.

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