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Beating Retreat: Soulful 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo', 1000-drone spectacle brings R-Day celebrations to a close

Beating the Retreat, which takes place on January 29 every year, is a centuries-old military tradition dating from the days when troops disengaged from battle at sunset.

Beating Retreat: Soulful 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo', 1000 drones spectacle brings R-Day celebrations to a close
New Delhi, First Published Jan 29, 2022, 7:31 PM IST

New Delhi: About a week-long Republic Day celebration culminated on Saturday evening with the jugalbandi of century-old military tradition and technology, lights and music displayed to wow the spectators. 

Coinciding with India's glorious 75 years of freedom and prosperity, the Beating Retreat ceremony held at Vijay Chowk on the foothills of Raisina Hills in the national capital marked the disengagement of troops from the battle at sunset. PM Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force graced the occasion, among others.

The armed forces showcased a kaleidoscopic show with colourful displays, the lasers project artwork and moving visuals celebrating "Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahotsava". 

The main attraction of the Beating Retreat ceremony was the 10-minute drone show comprising of 1000 indigenously developed drones, which painted the sky with several formations, including 75 years of India's independence and a map of India, among others. The drone show was organised by startup 'Botlab Dynamics' and supported by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and the Department of Science and Technology. India is now only the 4th country in the world after UK, Russia and China to light up the sky with 1000 drones at the ceremony.

During this year's ceremony, Abide With Me, the Christian hymn was replaced by Kavi Pradeep's seminal piece 'Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon'. The Christian hymn has been played since 1950. The song was penned during the 1962 India-China War. Thereafter, it became synonymous with Indian nationalism. It was first sung by noted singer Lata Mangeshkar on January 27, 1963, at New Delhi's National Stadium when the film industry was raising funds for war widows. 

The entry band was Massed Band playing the 'Veer Sainik' tune. This was followed by Pipes and Drums Band, CAPF Band, Air Force Band, Naval Band, Army Military Band and Massed Bands. The principal conductor of the Beating Retreat ceremony was Commander Vijay Charles D'Cruz.

'Beating the Retreat' is a very old military practice since time immemorial, like the days when soldiers separated from the battleground at sunset. As soon as the buglers announced the retreat, the soldiers stopped fighting, sheathed their arms and returned back from the battlefield. Since then, this custom has been practiced. Colours and standards are cased, and flags are lowered at retreats.

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