Beating Retreat Ceremony - History of Military Ceremony

Beating Retreat Ceremony is a military ceremony that was performed for the first time in India in the 1950’s. This article briefly throws light on the origins of this military ceremony, and lucidly explains facts pertaining to the Beating Retreat Ceremony in India, which marks the end of Republic Day festivities.

  1. Beating Retreat Ceremony is a military ceremony dating back to 17th-century England.
  2. The Beating Retreat Ceremony was originally known as ‘Watch Setting’.
  3. This Ceremony was first used to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle.
  4. It was initiated at sunset by the firing of a single round from the evening gun.
  5. The Beating Retreat Ceremonies usually consist of firing a canon, marching of a band and other decorative presentations. 
  6. Currently, most of the armed forces in the ‘Commonwealth’ perform some ceremonial form of the retreat.

Aspirants can find information on the structure and other important details related to the IAS Exam, in the linked article.

Other related links in line with the UPSC Syllabus are given below for the candidate’s reference:

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Beating Retreat Ceremony in India – Details of the Military Ceremony

The Beating Retreat Ceremony was first started in the 1950’s when Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited India for the first time after India attained Independence from the British. The idea was conceived by Major G.A.Roberts, an officer in the Grenadiers Regiment, which is an infantry regiment in the Indian Army. It was conceived by Major G.A.Roberts after he was directed by the First Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru to mark the arrival of Elizabeth II and Prince Phillips with a creative and spectacular event.

  1. In India, the Republic Day festivities officially comes to an end with the Beating Retreating Ceremony.
  2. This Beating Retreat Ceremony is conducted on January 29 every year, the third day after Republic Day.
  3. This ceremony is conducted by Section D in the Ministry of Defence, India.
  4. The venue of the Beating Retreating Ceremony is Raisina Hills (An area in New Delhi, which has the most important buildings of the Government of India including Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of President of India).
  5. Beating Retreating ceremony is performed by the pipe band of Indian Army; massed bands of Indian Air Force, Indian Navy, Indian Army.
  6. From 2016, even the bands of Delhi Police and Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) performed in the Beating Retreating Ceremony.

Learn more about the famous Wagah-Attari Border Ceremony also known as ‘Beating Retreat Border Ceremony’, which takes place at the Wagah Border, the international border separating India and Pakistan. 

Beating Retreat Ceremony in India – Order of Ceremony

  1. The Chief guest of the Beating Retreat Ceremony is the President of India.
  2. After the salute is given by the President’s Bodyguard (PBG), Indian National anthem will be played by the Massed Bands, with the simultaneous unfurling of the national flag of India.
  3. This is followed by the massed bands of tri services, marching in intricate and beautiful patterns while playing many popular tunes.
  4. The combined bands of Air Force and Navy are the last bands to perform 
  5. At the end of the Beating Retreat Ceremony, the national flag is lowered 
  6. Once the President leaves the ceremony, there will be a short display of fireworks.

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus 2021 page.

Frequently asked Questions about the Beating Retreat Ceremony

What is the Beating Retreat Ceremony?

The Beating Retreat is a sombre ceremony mainly consisting of performances of the bands of the three services. A centuries-old military tradition, it dates back to the days when troops used to disengage from fighting at sunset. A soon as the buglers sounded the “Retreat” the troops stopped fighting.

Why is Beating Retreat Ceremony carried out in India?

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 longing for the times gone by.

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