The “Beating of Retreat” Festival is a ceremony which formally closes the Republic Day Celebrations in Delhi the capital city of India. This ceremony is also refereed as the moving ceremony which is held three days after the Republic Day i.e. on the 29th January every year at ‘Vijay Chowk’ in Delhi. The Festival is arranged keeping in mind the ancient war tradition, according to which the soldier troops used to stand still in the battlefield and end the fight at sunset by hearing the sound of the vibrating bugles. “Beating of Retreat” Festival is actually a military ceremony observed by the British to recall soldiers back to their camps after sunset. In India the ceremony is celebrated since the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army started this unique ceremony displaying scintillating performances by the armed forces. Eventually the bands fall silent to a hymn ‘Abide with me’ which is believed to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite.
“Beating the Retreat” Festival is organized at The Rasina Hills and the adjacent square with the ‘Rashtrapathi Bhavan’ as the background. The President of India is invited as the Chief Guest every year for this ceremony. The ceremony starts with selected units from the three armed services, The Army, The Navy and The Air Force come together for a parade with the music in the background. The music is a blend of western and eastern traditions. After the live performances at exactly 6 pm the bugles call the retreat sound and The National Flag is lowered to the Indian National Anthem sung in musical harmony which marks an end to the Republic Day Celebrations. It is believed that the audiences describe this ceremony as a great musical experience and some even get moved emotionally. Later the silhouetted riders and the camels that were standing stone-like throughout the ceremony move away from the background. As the band crosses the entire place which includes ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’ and the adjoining buildings are illuminated after sunset which is visually appealing to the onlookers. The structure known for its architectural splendor looks mesmerizing as the day turns dark.
“The Beating of Retreat” is a grand ceremony attended by a large number of audiences from across the country. They enjoy the musical performances played before the flag is lowered. Indian musicians play some of the popular tunes like ‘Sare jahan se accha’ , ‘Vande mataram’, etc. while the foreign musicians also play some popular tunes to keep up the musical spirit. The Republic Day celebrations and the Beating of Retreat celebrations have become world famous. It is seen that the number of tourists visiting India during this time of the year are more giving rise to significant traffic problems in the capital city and hence The ‘Vijay Chowk’ or ‘The Victory square’ is closed in the evening as a part of the traffic arrangements and security reasons. Elaborate security arrangements are made in the capital city of Delhi and all the major cities of India so that the celebrations are not affected and end peacefully on a patriotic note.