Beating Retreat Ceremony


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Beating Retreat Ceremony

Mains level : Not Much

The Beating Retreat ceremony recently took place at Vijay Chowk. The ceremony, which takes place on January 29 every year, marks the culmination of the four-day Republic Day celebrations.

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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