Abide With Me, one of Mahatama Gandhi’s favorite songs which used to be played at the end of the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ritual on January 29, has been removed once again this year. In 2020, the traditional Christian song, which had been sung every year since 1950, was no longer performed. It was reintroduced last year after great controversy. The iconic patriotic song ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon,’ penned by Kavi Pradeep to honor the great sacrifice made by Indian soldiers during the 1962 Indo-China conflict, has been substituted by the hymn for this year’s occasion. As per sources, the reform is part of a larger push to “Indianize” the military, which includes melodies, training material, rituals, customs, and other behaviors, some of which date back to the British era.
Meanwhile, the choice by the center to reintroduce the legendary song did not go down well with some people. While some welcomed the move, others deemed it as an attempt to erase the precious traditions of the country. Some opposers on the internet also directed attention to the fact that the hymn’s removal occurred barely two days after the ceremonial light at the war memorial Amar Jawan Jyoti was doused for the first time since 1972.
It is noteworthy that dropping certain melodies and including others has been a process that has occurred in consecutive governments at the Centre for years. For example in the case, the Indian instrument ‘Shehnai’ was first utilized in 2012, and two years later, Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram and Jahan Daal Daal Par Sone Ki Chidiya were performed. As a result, it’s important to understand that ‘Beating The Retreat’ is not a strictly military event like Army Day, Navy Day, or Air Force Day. In reality, it’s a national function engaging the people, thus it’s important to play tunes that reflects Indian culture. Also, the song ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’ instils a strong feeling of patriotism in all Indians. The moving lyrics underlines the Indian soldiers’ ‘Unity in Diversity’ element and has a captivating and melancholy effect.
Interestingly, the United Kingdom’s Beating Retreat Event in 2001 incorporated the theme song for the “Star Wars” film, demonstrating that India is not alone in modernizing its decade-old tradition of the ceremony. It also featured the “Slaves Chorus from ‘Nabucco,'” which was written for a Verdi opera.
As per sources, ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’ will close this year’s Beating Retreat event. ‘Hey Kanchha,’ ‘Channa Bilauri,’ ‘Jai Janam Bhumi,’ ‘Nritya Sarita,’ Vijay Josh,’Kesaria Banna,’Veer Siachen,’Hathroi,’Vijay Ghosh,’Ladaakoo,’Swadeshi,’Amar Chattan,’Golden Arrows,’ and ‘Swarn Jayanti ‘Veer Sainik,’ ‘Fanfare by Buglers,’ INS India,’Yashasvee,’Jai Bharati,’Kerala,’Siki A Mole, ‘Hind Ki Sena,’Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja,’Drummers Call,’ and ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon,’ are among the melodies that will be performed on the evening of 44 buglers, 16 trumpeters, and 75 drummers will take part in the event.