The Centre has once decided to drop Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite hymn – Abide With Me – from the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29, breaking the 71-year-old tradition.
In 2020, there were reports that the hymn could be excluded from the ceremony, but no such decision was taken, possibly because of an uproar. The hymn is played at the end of the annual 45-minute performance of military music, to mark the last event of the Republic Day celebrations. Henry Francis Lyte wrote the hymn in 1861 and the music was composed by Eventide by William Henry Monk.
Importantly, January 29 is Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary.
This time, ‘Abide With Me’ has been replaced by Hindi patriotic song, ‘Aye Mere Watan ke Logon‘, written by Pradeep and composed by C. Ramchandra. It was sung for the first time by Lata Mangeshkar on Republic Day in 1963.
ThePrint quoted a government source to say that it was decided to include only Indian songs in the Beating Retreat ceremony because this programme is a part of Centre’s Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
Beating Retreat is a military ceremony dating to 17th-century England and was first used to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle. It also signifies an age-old military tradition when troops stopped fighting and came back to their camps at the sounding of the ‘retreat’.
The Beating Retreat ceremony this time will start with Fanfare by Buglers, followed by ‘Veer Sainik’ by the Massed Bands and six tunes by the Pipes and Drums band. Bands of the Central Armed Police Forces will play three tunes, followed by four tunes by the Air Force Band, which will include a special Ladakoo tune, by Flight Lt L S Rupachandra.
The Navy Band will play four tunes, after which the Army Military Band will play three tunes — Kerala, Siki A Mole and Hind Ki Sena. The Massed Bands will play three more tunes near the end, including Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja, Drummers Call, Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon.
The ceremony will end with Sare Jahan Se Accha by the Buglers. The entire event will see participation of 44 buglers, 16 trumpeters and 75 drummers.
Beating Retreat marks the end of nearly week-long festivities of the Republic Day, which used to begin on January 24 earlier, but this year onwards, they will begin on January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose This year, the country is celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Bose.