Beating Retreat ceremony marks the end of the annual Republic Day celebrations (held on the 26th of January every year). The Ceremony subsequently is held on the 29th of every year- which marks the return of defense forces who had arrived at the capital as part of Republic Day celebrations to their respective barracks across India.
It is a centuries old British military tradition, where troops at the end their fight at the sounding of retreat withdrew from the battlefield and returned to their camps at sunset. This tradition, whose origins can be tracked back to 17th century Britain has been performed in India (understandably, India being a colony of British) since the 1950s, when the then Major GA Roberts from a battalion called as the Grenadier battalion was asked to develop a ceremony for display of the assembled bands.
Here in India, as part of the ceremony, bands belonging to all three wings of the armed forces, i.e. the Army, the Navy and the Air Force perform at The Vijay Chowk or the victory square, with the stately Rashtrapati Bhawan at the background. The arrival of the President for the ceremony accompanied by his mounted bodyguards with the sound of fanfare sounded by the trumpeters marks the beginning of the ceremony. Once the President arrives, the commander of the President’s Bodyguard commands the unit to give the national salute. Following this, the Indian national flag is unfurled at the venue amidst the performance of national anthem by the assembled bands.
While the major core of the retreat ceremony has remained unchanged, yet several changes have also been introduced. Since 2016, bands belonging to central armed police forces(CAPF) and the respective state police have also been taking part in the event. The interesting change is that, in addition to the western band instruments, the country has also introduced Indian instruments such as the Shehnai for the ceremony.