Foot-tapping music and soulful classical renditions reverberated at Vijay Chowk on Wednesday as the Republic Day celebrations culminated with the Beating Retreat ceremony here with 26 performances by the bands of the armed forces and central and state police contingents. From "Abhiyan" to "Nritya Sarita" and "Ganga Jamuna", Indian tunes were the flavour of the Beating Retreat ceremony.
The function began with President Ram Nath Kovind arriving at the venue in his ceremonial motorcade.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Air Force Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karamvir Singh were present on the occasion.
The Army, Navy, Air Force, state police and Central Armed Police Force bands performed over two dozen tunes.
There were 25 tunes composed by Indian musicians, including "Madhumari", "Marhapeka", "Jauna Solti" and "Vijay Bharat".
Christian hymn ''Abide With Me'', a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, drew loud cheers from the gathering. There was uncertainty over its inclusion at the ceremonial event this year.
The event came to a close with the ever-popular tune 'Sare Jahan Se Acha'.
This year, 15 military bands, 16 pipes and drums bands from regimental centers and battalions participated in the ceremony.
As the bugle was sounded for the retreat, the Raisina Hill complex lit up in a riot of colours, the illumination provided by LEDs rather than the traditional incandescent bulbs.
Principal conductor of Beating the Retreat ceremony was Flying Officer Rupachandra, while Army Military bands conductor was Risalda Major Rajender Singh. Navy and Air Force band conductors were Master Chief Petty Officer Vincent Johnson and Junior Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar respectively.
The ceremony held on January 29 every year marks the culmination of the four-day-long Republic Day celebrations.
Beating Retreat marks a centuries-old military tradition dating from the days when troops disengaged from the battle at sunset. As soon as the bugglers sounded the "retreat", the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield. It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of "retreat" has been retained to this day. Colours and standards are cased and flags lowered.