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Vijay Chowk comes alive with music, lights

New Delhi: Soul-stirring martial tunes and solemn drum beats reverberated in the air while the majestic Raisina Hills was lit up coinciding with the sunset as part of the Beating the Retreat ceremony here on Saturday.

The ceremony, which marks the conclusion of Republic Day celebrations, saw bands from three armed services in their colourful ensembles playing tunes like `Indian Star`, `March of the Mariners`, `Amar Senani`, `Sare Jahan Se Achcha` and two new compositions — `Gaj Raj` by Captain Mahendra Das and `Rashmi` by Captain Khem Chand.

In a departure from previous years, Indian tunes were the flavour this year. As many as 19 of the 25 performances have been composed by Indian musicians and just four popular tunes by foreign musicians have been retained, interspersed twice with `Fanfare`, a collage by buglers and the `Drummers` Call`, a traditional performance by only drummers.

Other than the ever-popular `Sare Jahan Se Achcha` and `Abide with Me`, a hymn written by W H Monk, the rest of the tunes were played after a gap of at least a decade.

President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the ceremony that saw 12 military bands, 15 pipes and drums bands, 72 buglers and 12 trumpeters from various regiments of the Army taking part along with four bands each of the Navy and Indian Air Force.

This year, it was conducted by IAF and Wing Commander Jaychandran was the principal conductor for all the bands.

President Patil, the chief guest of the function and supreme commander of the armed forces, came from Rashtrapati Bhawan preceded by mounted presidential bodyguards at Vijay Chowk, where her arrival was sounded by trumpeters, 38 buglers and 38 echo buglers followed by playing of national anthem.

The grand ceremony performed ahead of the sunset was attended by a large audience amid elaborate security and traffic arrangements. The crowd enjoyed the performance to the hilt, breaking into applause again and again.

The band members, in their reds, olive greens, orange and navy blues, played the tunes for an hour before the flag was lowered amid retreat by buglers and the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the Parliament House, the North and South Blocks along with other official buildings in Raisina Hills lit up.

As many as 32 main retreaters, playing bugles, and six trumpeters performed on the Rajpath at Vijay Chowk while 10 retreaters followed from North Block and South Block. Four retreaters were deployed on the Vayu Bhavan and Krishi Bhavan.

The first tune to be played was `Indian Star` composed by Subedar Sohan Lal. The Army`s 15 pipes and drums bands also played `Sherpa`, a quick march tune; `Channa Bilauri`, a troop; `Jhelum` and `Konkan Sundari`, two other quick march tunes, `Monymusk`, a strathspey tune; `The High Road to Linton`, a reel tune and `Pholoon Ki Ghati`, a quick march tune.

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