Spectators at the Beating Retreat ceremony on Wednesday were in for a surprise when President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in a decorated, six-horse buggy. Breaking away from the usual tradition of arriving in a limousine, the carriage was used after a gap of nearly 20 years.
The majestic Raisina Hills, enveloped in a layer of fog on the cold winter evening, provided the perfect ambience for the ceremony which brought the curtain down on the 65th Republic Day celebrations.
The event at Vijay Chowk began with the unfurling of the Tricolour and the National Anthem playing in the background. This was followed by buglers announcing the formal beginning of the ceremony.
First to perform were the massed bands, which set the tone for the evening with “ Jahan daal, daal par … ” Indian tunes were the flavour of the ceremony. As many as 18 of the 21 performances were composed by Indian musicians. The band members, in their red, olive green, orange and navy blue uniform, mesmerised the spectators, including Mr. Mukherjee, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and chiefs of the three defence forces.
Fourteen military bands, 17 pipes and drums bands, 85 buglers and 14 trumpeters from various regiments of the Army left the audience enthralled. Four military bands each of the Navy and Air Force also took part in the event. The principal conductor of the Beating Retreat ceremony was Squadron Leader G. Jayachandran.