Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thamasoma Jyothirgamaya: Beating the Retreat Ceremony

Beating the Retreat Ceremony: officially denotes the end of Republic Day festivities and is performed after three days from Republic Day.

It is a ceremony and performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. The venue is Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the north and south block of the Rashtrapati Bhavan towards the end of Rajpath. This ceremony revives an ancient war custom according to which troops used to stop fighting at sunset. Bugles announcing the sunset would sound in the battlefield. 


As soon as soldiers heard these bugles they would stand still in the battlefield and war would be stopped for the day. Now a days of course one must be prepared 24 hours, one must be on guard all the time to protect our country.

The ceremony opens with a parade by selected contingents of the armed forces set to scintillating performances by the various armed forces bands. The parade reaches its climax with all the bands playing in unison. 

As the bands fall silent, a lone trumpeter picks up the moving tune ‘Siki a mole’. After this performance the hymn ‘Abide with me’ is played by the Massed Bands. It is such a beautiful tune.

This year the Indian tunes flavoured  the 'Beating the Retreat' ceremony here. As many as 20 out of 23 performances have been composed by Indian musicians. This year some 'desi' new tunes were played for the first time like 'Vir Bharat', 'Chhana Bilauri', 'Jai Janam Bhumi' and 'Athulya Bharat'.
Other tunes were 'Deshon Ka Sartaj Bharat', 'Cutty's Wedding', 'Piper O' Drumond', 'Gorkha Brigade', 'Ocean Splendour', 'Blue Field', 'Battle of the Sky', 'Anandloke', 'Dashing Desh', 'Flying Star', 'Glorious India', 'Bhupal', 'Indian Soldiers', 'Hathroi', 'Salam to the Soldiers', 'Giri Raj', 'Drummers' Call', 'Abide With Me', 'Hey mera Watan ke logon' 'Vande mataram' and lastly the ever-popular 'Sare Jahan Se Acha'.

One by one, the camels and the riders who stood stone-like throughout, against the backdrop of the sky, move away from the background.
At exactly 6 pm, the buglers sound the retreat and the National Flag is lowered to the National Anthem bringing the Republic Day celebrations to a formal end.

This time you would have noticed that the flag was lowered by a woman. There is a way to lower the flag and there is also a specific way to fold it, and it has to be handed over to the right person who would keep it safe till the next day.

'Beating Retreat' 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. Colours and Standards are cased and flags lowered. The ceremony creates a nostalgia for the times gone by.

All at once the whole place gets magically illuminated:

THAMASOMA JOTHIRGAMAYA - from Tamaso(Darkness) take me to Jyothi (Light of bliss, faith, of knowledge)

Watch this Video if you have missed watching this spectacular event.





22 comments:

  1. What a fascinating insight into history and the ceremony.

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  2. Hello Rama, greetings and good wishes.

    Amazing post with fantastic description of the nostalgic ceremony. Your write up was so good that I felt I was present at the ceremony. Your writing skills are fabulous.

    Is this a legacy of the British or something new which we started after Independence?
    As far as I know, the Armed forces, army,navy and air force, are based on British model.

    Best wishes



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    1. It was started by the British, but as time went on it got an Indian flavour to it, which is also good in a way.You would have noticed how they were putting out the names of the tunes, the name of the composer, and if you had watched it in any of the Hindi News Channels , they were giving constant running commentary on the whole event , highlighting each and every question, that were raised by the presenter.
      This was the 1st time, I too became so much interested after hearing their commentary. I wish the English channels too showed such curtisie, many people would have had the chance to understand about the Beating the Retreat ceremony. In the Rajya Sabha channel there was an English a swell as Hindi commentary.

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  3. I watched the video completely! I didn't watch it on TV this year. I love to watch it. I had to go out.

    You have given a long list of tunes played by them. Great, Rama!

    The title is very apt!

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  4. Thank you Sandhya. Yes it was a programme for more than an hour, so playing all these tunes would take that much time.I was getting bored seeing it on the English news channel, as I wanted to know many things about this ceremony, and just by chance I came to these Hindi news channels where they were describing it so beautifully. In fact I got the idea for the title from their beautiful commentary.
    I really feel the English channels too could have had such a commentary. Any way, as I mentioned above, the Rajya Sabha Channel had the English and Hindi commentary, and the lady's English was wonderful to listen.
    You know every year they play different tunes, except for some very famous and popular tunes which they play every year.

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  5. What a fascinating and informative description about Beating the retreat and its origin.The inclusion of the video is greatly appreciated.Thank you.

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    1. Thanks KP. I hope you enjoyed watching it on any of the Youtube videos.

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  6. I've always felt that the Retreat Ceremony is way more beautiful (more bands) than the actual Republic ceremony. THanks for the insight and the link, watching it right away :-)

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    1. Yes it is always very interesting. I love watching these patriotic celebration, especially when they have a running commentary with them. It was so good to see Delhi in winter, with all the people both from the government and people like us. The rain tried to play spoil sport, during the Republic day, but that didn't seem to bother anyone there.
      It is a proud moment to all Indians.
      Hope you like the video, always see the Hindi news channel videos they all have good commentary, especially the Rajya Sabha channel, where you get to hear the beautiful voice of the lady commentator, with her excellent English.

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  7. Nice video and interesting ceremony! Thanks for sharing, Rama!

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    1. Thanks TH. Do you have such ceremonies in your country?

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  8. What a beautiful ceremony. Thank you for sharing the video.

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    1. Thanks. I am glad you liked it. Welcome to my blogs.

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  9. Everything should be ethical and should have its importance.Our scriptures show that the warriors kept their ethics in the mode and method of using arms.But things have gone topsyturvy. The radicals or the foes blast explosives from hide-outs.
    Very apt topic of the time and aptly briefed the needful ,Rama.Nice!Nice!.

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    1. You are very right, there is no ethics in anything these days. Thanks. A visit to your blogs is long overdue.

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  10. I think I watched it the one at Wagah border on the telly. It was interesting but I didn't have the vaguest idea for the ceremony. Reading the explanation here makes me feel better.

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  11. Yes Wagah Border ceremony is very famous. However, this too is very good. he effort put by the defence people is really remarkable. Thanks Ramakant Pradhan

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  12. Got some more insight into the meaning of the Beating the Retreat like war would be stopped for the day at the battlefield.
    I too noticed the woman lowering the flag . . . ..I think its a first time in India.

    I am reminded of the chance I lost in taking part of the Republic Day Parade in 1971. The parade was called off due to the Indo Pak war. (was selected through the NCC)

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  13. Thank you for sharing the video and very nice description. I enjoy watching the ceremony! :)

    I have an award for you on my blog, please visit and collect it. You have the freedom to either do the tag or just accept the award - choice is yours :)

    Happy Sunday Rama!! :)

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  14. As I had never heard if this event, it was a wonderful new experience. Thank you for sharing, Rama.

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