One of the less known and very traditional ceremony of India’s Republic Day celebration is called ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony. Beating Retreat ceremony marks official completion of Republic Day celebrations and this ceremony takes place on January 29, three days after Republic Day, January 26.
I have never attended this ceremony, but became aware of it during 2011 when they changes were made to this traditional ceremony and an official circular was released. According to Wikipedia and other news articles, below is the glimpse of what is being performed during this ceremony.
– Source: Wikipedia Picture Credit: Anonymous on internet
The ceremony starts by the massed bands of the three services marching in unison, playing popular marching tunes like Colonel Bogey March, Sons of the Brave and Qadam Qadam Badaye Ja. The Fanfare by buglers 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 massed military bands, 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 and formation numbers. 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.
The three band contingents march forward and take position close to the President’s seat. The drummers, mostly from the pipe bands, give a solo performance, known as the Drummer’s Call. A regular feature of this pageant is the last tune played before the Retreat, when the National Flag is lowered. 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 by the buglers, 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 and the official march of the Armed Forces, 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 as another band is stationed 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.