There was a traditional touch to this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony: President Pranab Mukherjee chose to ride in a six-horse open carriage and the musical beats of this year’s ceremony at the Vijay Chowk were a delightful mix of the old and the new.
The Beating Retreat ceremony marks the end of Republic Day celebrations and takes place at Vijay Chowk on Rajpath.
The bands began with ‘Jahaan Daal-Daal Par Sone Ki Chidiyaa’. Then came ‘Rejoice in Raisina’ with an echo of ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ on the flute from the belfry of South Block. The musical mix finally culminated with ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha’. ‘Rejoice in Raisina’ was composed by Squadron Leader G Jayachandran.
All this while, the synchronised marching of the massed bands rendered a feeling of nationalism and feel-good among the crowd.
“The idea of blending ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ with ‘Rejoice in Raisina’ was to connect with the people. There were three movements starting with the big crescendo in brass followed by brass memory and then rhythmic jazz version with the saxophone. During this performance, the ‘H’ formation presented by the Air Force and Navy bands depicted ‘Hindustan’. It took us nearly six months to compose these tunes,” said Jayachandran, who is also the principal conductor of beating retreat.
“It feels proud to present your own composition in front of the President and so many people,” he added.
Of the 23 tunes played during the event, 10 were brand new. Six were played by the combined bands of navy and air force and four by military bands.
The composition of ‘Blessings of God’, dedicated to the soldiers who guard the borders, has an interesting back story. The co-composer of this tune, Sub Major Krishnan Kumar, passed away six months ago and it was later completed by his fellow partner Major Girish Kumar.
And as the massed bands marched up the Raisina Hill at the end of the ceremony, thousands of bulbs lined across Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House and north and south blocks lit up suddenly, providing a perfect setting to the whole event.
“We really enjoyed the ceremony. Everything had a royal feel to it and the coordination among the bands was brilliant. This was a different Delhi experience altogether. We would love to come here again next year,” said a group of students from economics department at Sri Venkateswara College.