Republic Day & Beating Retreat
Republic Day is celebrated every year on 26 January to mark coming into force of Indian constitution with great pomp, fanfare and patriotic fervor. It includes march past of the three armed forces, massive parades, folk dances by tribal folk from different states in picturesque costumes marking the cultural unity of India. Further, the streak of jet planes of Indian Air Force, leaving a trial of colored smoke, marks the end of the festival.
Beating Retreat is the end of the Republic Day Celebrations and is held at the Vijay Chowk in New Delhi on January 29. This ceremony revives an ancient war custom according to which troops used to stop fighting at sunset. Bugles announcing the sunset would sound in the battlefield. As soon as soldiers heard these bugles they would stand still in the battlefield and war would be stopped for the day.
This ceremony held on the 29th of January every year, marks the formal end of the Republic Day celebrations. The ceremony opens with a parade by select contingents of the armed forces set to scintillating performances by the various armed forces bands. The parade climaxes with all the bands playing in unison. As the bands fall silent, a lone trumpeter picks up the moving tune 'Siki a mole'. After this performance the hymn 'Abide with me' is played by the Massed Bands. This hymn, said to be Mahatma Gandhi's favourite, is a permanent feature of the ceremony.
At exactly 6 pm, the buglers sound the retreat and the National Flag is lowered to the National Anthem bringing the Republic Day celebrations to a formal end. One by one, the camels and the riders who stand stone-like throughout against the backdrop of the sky, move away from the background.
Just after this comes the most visually appealing part of the show. With the click of a button, a thousand bulbs light up the Rastrapati Bhavan and adjoining buildings. Surely a fitting end to the annual celebrations of the Indian republic !