Army veteran’s poem sets tone for this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony - Hindustan Times
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Army veteran’s poem sets tone for this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony

Jan 31, 2023 05:19 PM IST

Shankhnaad- A Military Tune is the first original Indian martial tune based on Indian classical music post Independence. It was first played during the Army Day parade on January 15, 2019, and later at the 70th Republic Day parade.

Shankhnaad, the opening tune of this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony at Vijay Chowk, was based on a poem penned by brigadier Vivek Sohal SM (sena medal), a 68-year-old army veteran of the Mahar Regiment residing in Noida’s Arun Vihar township.

Brigadier Vivek Sohal SM penned the poem in 2016. (HT PHOTO)
Brigadier Vivek Sohal SM penned the poem in 2016. (HT PHOTO)

Shankhnaad- A Military Tune is the first original Indian martial tune based on Indian classical music created post Independence. It was first played during the Army Day parade on January 15, 2019, and later at the 70th Republic Day parade.

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“Shankhnaad is the country’s first originally composed martial tune based on Indian classical music,” said Sohal, who retired from the army in September 2010.

Reflecting on the tune, Sohal said in 2016, he was approached to write a song dedicated to the Mahar Regiment to be played during the regiment’s platinum jubilee celebrations in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh.

“The Mahar Regiment came into existence in 1941 and in 2016, it completed 75 years of service. In January 2016, I was approached by regiment colonel, major general Manoj Oka, to pen a poem dedicated to the regiment, which would arouse a sense of motivation among the soldiers and celebrate their bravery,” said Sohal, who is well known among his peers for his love of literature.Sohal says he was especially inspired by the works of Indian poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan.

Dr Tanuja Nafde, an exponent of Indian classical music, was also roped in by major general Oka to compose the music for the poem, said Sohal.

“After penning the poem, Dr Nafde made a song of my poem, giving it a melodious Indian classical tune. We worked together and in November 2016, the song was presented to the regiment at the platinum jubilee celebration ceremony in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. It was very well received by veterans as well as all soldiers,” said brig Sohal.

With this composition, Dr Nafde became the first civilian to compose a tune for the Indian armed forces post Independence.

“It was a herculean task to get the composition right as all instruments used by the army are western and we had to get them to play an Indian classical music tune. For recording the song, I mentored each of the 36 members of the army band individually as their training was westernised as well,” said Dr Nafde, who is the principal of RS Mundle Dharampeeth Arts and Commerce College, Nagpur.

Thereafter, a live recording of the song was done in July 2017 at the Yash Raj studios in Mumbai.

“The recorded tune was presented to the officers of the music department of the army after which in December 2017, the song was accorded the status of an Indian military tune. Later, the tune got all administrative approvals and was subsequently dedicated to the nation on October 7, 2018, as the martial tune for all defence forces by then Chief of Army Staff, the late General Bipin Rawat, at Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi,” said Sohal.

The song’s DVD was also released and it was uploaded on the YouTube page of Indian Army as well, he added.

In January 2019, it was inculcated into the Republic Day celebrations and this year, it was played at the Beating Retreat ceremony.

“When I first penned the poem, it was meant to be a regiment poem but today, it has become the first originally composed Indian martial tune based on Indian classical music,” said Sohal.

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