‘Abide with me’ – Gandhi’s favourite hymn – dropped from Republic Day’s Beating the Retreat ceremony
The tune has been played by the Massed Bands of the security forces every year since 1950 to mark the end of the Republic Day celebrations.
English hymn Abide With Me, said to be a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, has been dropped from the list of tunes to be played at the Beating the Retreat ceremony on January 29, PTI reported on Saturday, citing a brochure released by the Indian Army.
The tune has been played by the Massed Bands of the security forces every year since 1950 at the Beating the Retreat ceremony, which marks the end of the Republic Day festivities. However, the list of 26 tunes to be played this year shows that it has been replaced by the patriotic song Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon.
Abide With Me was written in the 19th century by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte and composed by William Henry Monk. The hymn had been dropped from the Beating the Retreat ceremony of 2020 as well, but was later restored following wide criticism on social media.
The Army’s brochure noted that Beating the Retreat is a centuries-old military tradition dating from the days when troops disengaged from the battle at sunset. As soon as the buglers sounded the retreat, the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield, it added.
Since 1950, the Massed Bands has played the tune at the Beating the Retreat ceremony, held on January 29 every year. After the tune is played, the retreat buglers bring down the Indian flag at the dusk to mark the end of the Republic Day celebrations.
Many social media users, including Opposition leaders on Saturday criticised the decision to drop the hymn from the ceremony.
Some social media users also pointed out that dropping the hymn came just two days after the ceremonial flame at war memorial Amar Jawan Jyoti was extinguished for the first time since 1972.
On Friday, the flame was merged with the torch at the National War Memorial, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019. The new memorial is situated less than a kilometre away on the same stretch as the Amar Jawan Jyoti at Delhi’s India Gate.
Every year, the Republic Day celebrations begin on January 24. However, this year, it will begin on January 23, to mark the 125th birth anniversary of freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose, PTI reported.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that a statue of Bose will be installed at the India Gate to honour his contributions. A hologram of the statue will be projected at the site on January 23. The hologram will remain till the statue is installed.