January 26 has been synonymous for me with Parade at New Delhi for a long long time, and it remains so even today. But it is the Beating Retreat ceremony which I look forward to more than the Parade. Yesterday as I walked the entire stretch of Rajpath just to see the lights, the only wish I had was to watch this ceremony LIVE at Vijay Chowk someday.
As the cavalcade of cars brings the VVIPs, the TV camera pans down to a bird’s eye view of the North & South Block, and one sees the military bands come marching down from the Raisina Hills towards the ceremonial area. The bugle sounds, the national anthem plays and the musical journey starts. The much-decorated camel cavalry lines alongwith the setting sun against the almost majestic structures in sandstone.
It is a spectacle of a beautiful setting with music played by men in uniform marching to the tunes of varied music forming varied patterns. My personal favourite has long been the drummers and pipers, in varied colours of their battalion swaying gently to the music they play along. And too soon the hour is over, when you hear the haunting tunes of Abide With Me – the chimes accompanying the music of the hymn. As a kid, I used to wonder where does this bell like sound comes from?
The collection of tunes has changed drastically over last few years, but the aura of the ceremony hasn’t changed for me. The military precision of various bands as they march in tune, and other motions around the ceremony defines the phrase itself. And as the national flag is lowered, and the bands march back playing Sare Jahan se Achcha, there is always a familiar lump in my throat … I am reminded that I am an Indian. The musical spectacle of bands fades away to the bright lights at Raisina Hills, the celebration of Incredible India comes to a close!
Proud to be an Indian,
January 29, 2013