No Beating Retreat this Jan 29

January 29th, 2009 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) Beating Retreat, the annual colourful military musical extravaganza, was not held Thursday as the nation mourned the death of former president R. Venkataraman — this was only the second cancellation of the event in the history of republic India.Beating Retreat, which symbolises the returning of troops to their barracks, is held Jan 29 after Republic Day every year in Delhi.

The event, which is the grand finale to the Republic Day celebrations, was cancelled because the nation is mourning the death of the former president, who passed away in the capital Tuesday. The full dress rehearsal of the Beating Retreat was called off midway as soon as the news of the death of Venkataraman came in.

A seven-day mourning period was declared following the death.

Earlier in 2001, the Beating Retreat was cancelled for the first time in the wake of the Jan 26 Gujarat earthquake.

The Beating Retreat was held for the first time in 1952 - two years after India became a republic and the celebrations had already started taking shape into an elaborate fiesta spread over a week.

“At the first ceremony, 16 army buglers sounded the Retreat at the Red Fort on Jan 28, 1952 and another ceremony was held at Connaught Circus, in the lawns facing Regal Cinema, on Feb 1,” defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.

In 1953, the Beating Retreat ceremony was shifted to the Great Place (now known as Vijay Chowk) and was held Jan 29.

Beating Retreat, a ceremony that goes back centuries when troops rested their arms at sundown, is at once a combination of dazzling military uniforms of various shades and hues, of precision marching and - most importantly - music of the highest order.

The hour-long ceremony has been so engaging that in 1960 a special show was staged Jan 27 for Queen Elizabeth-II and the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Phillip, the top foreign dignitaries at the Republic Day parade that year.

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