01/15/2020, 10.31
INDIA
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Delhi drops Christian hymn 'Abide with Me’ from the Republic parade

by Nirmala Carvalho

The piece of music has been performed since 1950. During the parade of the armed forces, about 35 songs are played. A Delhi official: "In recent years, we have been replacing western songs."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The central government of India has decided to drop the performance of a Christian hymn accompanying the military parade on Republic Day. The choice was made yesterday by the defense minister. The hymn in question is the famous "Abide with me" considered to be one of Mahatma Gandhi's favorites and present among the songs of the national holiday since 1950.

The Christian hymn was performed during the "Beating the Retreat" ceremony, the parade of the Indian armed forces that concludes the celebrations for the Republic Day. A ministry official, under anonymity, confirms the news. "Every year there is a change of songs - he says - there are efforts to introduce new songs and an emphasis on adding more Indian songs."

Another official explains that a total of 30-35 pieces of music are performed during the parade. A third adds that in recent years the emphasis has been on replacing western songs, preferring songs performed with traditional Indian instruments.

"Abide with me" was written in the 19th century by the Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte and composed by William Henry Monk. The "Beating The Retreat" ceremony takes place every year on the evening of January 29 at the Vijay Chowk in New Delhi, the Indian capital. According to some unconfirmed rumors, the Christian passage should be replaced by "Vande Mataram" [a hymn to Mother Earth in Sanskrit].

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