Rains failed to dampen the spirit of Beating Retreat ceremony held at the historic Vijay Chowk here on Sunday as Indian classical tunes played by bands of the armed forces filled the air, marking the end of Republic Day celebrations.
Foot-tapping music marked the beginning of the ceremony with the arrival of President Droupadi Murmu. She was welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Prime Minister Modi got drenched as he moved around outside the sheltered area, waving at the audience after the ceremony was over.
For the first time, a 3-D anamorphic projection was done on the facade of North Block and South Block.
As many as 29 Indian tunes were played by the music bands of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the State Police and the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
Never missing a step despite the wet ground, the bands began playing the “Agniveer” tune followed by the enthralling tunes like “Almora”, “Kedar Nath”, “Sangam Dur”, “Queen of Satpura”, “Bhagirathi” and “Konkan Sundari”.
The Air Force’s band played “Aprajey Arjun”, “Charkha”, “Vayu Shakti”, “Swadeshi”, while fascinating “Ekla Cholo Re”, “Hum Taiyyar Hai”, and “Jai Bharati” were played by the band of the Navy.
The Army’s band played “Shankhnaad”, “Sher-e-Jawan”, “Bhupal”, “Agranee Bharat”, “Young India”, “Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja”, “Drummers Call”, and “Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon”.
The event came to a close with the ever-popular tune “Sare Jahan se Accha”.
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In a magnificent sight, the contrast of the bands playing with the lights on their instruments on and then playing “Aye mere watan ke logon”, with the same lights switched off, cast an ethereal spell on the Vijay Chowk.
The drone show involving 3,500 indigenous drones was, however, cancelled due to bad weather, officials said.
“The drone show could not take place due to bad weather. Lot of preparations had gone into it,” a senior official said.
The principal conductor of the ceremony was Flight Lieutenant Leimapokpam Rupachandra Singh. While the Army band was led by Sub Maj Diggar Singh, the Naval and Air Force band commanders were M Anthoni Raj and Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar, respectively.
The conductor of the State Police and CAPF bands was Assistant Sub-Inspector Prem Singh.
The buglers performed under the leadership of Naib Subedar Santosh Kumar Pandey, and pipes and drums band was played under the instructions of Subedar Major Baswaraj Vagge.
The ceremony, which traces its origins to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army indigenously developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands.
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Now, it has emerged as an event of national pride when the colours and standards are paraded.
“It marks a centuries-old military tradition, when the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield and returned to the camps at sunset at the sounding of the Retreat,” a Defence Ministry statement said on Saturday.