Friday, February 1, 2013

"Beating Retreat" Rehearsal

Admission ticket - Rs50 (about $1)
Monday night, Jan 28, we went with the other missionary couple, Elder and Sister Black, to the rehearsal for the "Beating Retreat", which is held on January 29 (only VIPs and their guests are invited to the actual ceremony).  Unfortunately there were even more restrictions than for the parade (but no bomb threats), so the only pictures you're going are my ticket stub and the ones I could find on the internet that weren't copyrighted.   

My "extensive" knowledge of this event comes from Wikipedia, which seems to be fairly accurate.  "The Beating Retreat in India officially denotes the end of Republic Day festivities. It is conducted on the evening of January 29, the third day after the Republic Day. It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force." The event is held close to the President's Palace.  It reminded me of going to high school band competitions when Bryan was in the band, although the formations were not nearly as complicated as what HS bands do today in the US.  Each band took it's turn playing familar Indian songs (not familiar to us, but still good).  The most surprising song was the Christian hymn, "Abide with Me" played by all the bands combined at the end of the event.  Especially when you consider India is predominately Hindu.   From Wikipedia - "A regular feature of this pageant is the last tune played before the Retreat, when the National Flag is lowered. It is the famous Christian Hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte, Abide With Me set to music by W. M. Monk and one of Mahatma Gandhi's personal hymns, has remain part of the ceremony over the years when many other foreign tunes were phased out to make way for Indian tunes, especially during the 2011 ceremony." 
Camels at the Beating Retreat
The other interesting thing was camels with riders standing on the walls surrounding some of the government buildings.  They were a long distance from where we were seating in the bleachers (there must have been 20 camels), and they didn't move throughout the entire 90 minute ceremony.  We debated back and forth on whether they were real or not,
until at the end of the ceremony  when they walked off.  I found this close-up picture of them. 

To sum up this "exciting" blog post, I quote from the local newpaper - ''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 nostalgia for the times gone by.  It sounds like this writer misses the days of good old-fashion war...

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