Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite ‘Abide With Me’ hymn dropped from Beating Retreat ceremony


PTI, Jan 23, 2022, 10:33 AM IST

One of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite hymns “Abide With Me” has been dropped from this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29, according to a brochure released by the Indian Army on Saturday.

“Abide With Me”, written by Scottish Anglican poet and hymnologist Henry Francis Lyte in 1847, has been part of the Beating Retreat ceremony since 1950.

The Centre had in 2020 also planned to drop “Abide With Me” from the Beating Retreat ceremony but had later retained it after a huge uproar.

The brochure released by the Indian Army on Saturday listed 26 tunes that will be played at this year’s ceremony at Vijay Chowk.

For this year’s ceremony, the hymn has been replaced by the popular patriotic song ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’, which was written by Kavi Pradeep to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by the Indian soldiers during the 1962 Indo-China war.

The move to drop the hymn from this year’s ceremony came days after the Centre’s decision to merge the Amar Jawan Jyoti flame at the India Gate with the eternal flame of the National War Memorial (NWM). The merger took place during a brief ceremony on Friday.

While some military officials defended the decision to merge the flame, several opposition parties, including the Congress accused the BJP-ruled Centre of “removing history”.

Reacting strongly, Congress in-charge of Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura, Ajoy Kumar, on Saturday tweeted “new India, No Amar Jyothi, no Abide With Me during the Beating Retreat. Sicko’s BJP.”

This year’s Beating Retreat ceremony will conclude with ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’, the brochure stated.

The 26 tunes that will be played at this year’s ceremony include ‘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’, according to the brochure.

‘Veer Sainik’, ‘Fanfare by Buglers, ‘INS India’, ‘Yashasvee’, ‘Jai Bharati’, ‘Kerala’, ‘Siki A Mole’, ‘Hind Ki Sena’, ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja’, ‘Drummers Call’ besides ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’ are also part of the tunes that will be played on the evening of January 29, the brochure noted.

The ceremony will see the participation of 44 buglers, 16 trumpeters and 75 drummers.

Beating Retreat is a centuries-old military tradition dating from the days when troops disengaged from the battle at sunset, it mentioned. As soon as the buglers sounded the retreat, the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield, it added.

Beating Retreat marks the end of nearly week-long festivities of Republic Day, which used to begin on January 24. But this year, the celebrations will begin on January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Ahead of Bose’s 125th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Friday announced that a grand statue of the iconic freedom fighter will be installed at India Gate as a symbol of India’s “indebtedness” to him.

Till the statue, made of granite, is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place, he said, adding that he will unveil the hologram statue on January 23.

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