Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

What is Beating Retreat Ceremony?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Beating Retreat Ceremony

Mains level : Important national festivals and their significance

There are 26 tunes that will be played at Beating Retreat this year on January 29 skipping the “Abide with Me” tune.

What is the Beating Retreat function?

  • ‘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.
  • The military tradition began in 17th century England, when King James II ordered his troops to beat drums, lower flags and organise a parade to announce the end of a day of combat.
  • The ceremony was then called ‘watch setting’ and took place at sunset after firing a single round from the evening gun.
  • The ceremony is currently held by Armed Forces in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and India, among others.

How did it begin in India?

  • Beating the Retreat’ has emerged as an event of national pride when the Colours and Standards are paraded.
  • The ceremony traces its origins to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army indigenously developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands.
  • Section D (Ceremonials) at the Ministry of Defence conducts the event.
  • The ceremony consists of musical performances by the bands, who each year play Indian and western tunes.


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