Indians have been ushered into a compelling debate about a Scottish hymn that has been part of their annual Republic day celebrations for several years.
The Christian hymn is entitled “Abide with Me” which commemorates the sacrifice of India’s military forces. Abide With Me Song was written in 1847 by Henry Francis Lyte. And has been part of India’s national celebration for years.
The government plans to pull it out from their 75th celebration. The motive behind this is to take India through progressive decolonization. Veterans and many citizens have shown displeasure in this effort by the government.
Every year, India puts on a grand parade in the capital, Delhi, on 26 January to mark the day in 1950 when it officially became a sovereign republic. The Beating Retreat ceremony, which originates from a 17 Century British tradition, happens three days later, signaling the end of festivities.
This song is known to be a favorite song by Mahatma Gandhi. The government has planned to drop the song saying it is an “ongoing process of decolonizing India”.
According to BBC, the government’s military source revealed that the song will be removed from this year’s event to make way for a playlist of Indian tunes. It’s being replaced by a popular patriotic Hindi song – Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon – which commemorates Indian soldiers who died in the 1962 war against China.
“This song is more connected to the mass population because it honors all those who laid down their lives. It’s more appropriate,” the military spokesperson said.
For many Indian veterans, Abide with Me – a hymn written in 1847 by Henry Francis Lyte – is the defining point of the occasion.
“Cutting it out seems like cutting out a piece of tradition and throwing it into the dustbin,” Pavan Nair, a retired army colonel who served for 30 years, told the BBC.
There is still an ongoing debate about the government’s move of cutting away the well-known song which has a tight connection to Mahatma Gandhi. It has etched good memories in the hearts of many Indians. Gandhi’s grandson has also shown displeasure in the government’s decision.
Replacing a well-known Christian hymn with a Hindu hymn is not something that auger well to many Indians.
They are arguing and pleading with the government to maintain the song. It’s historic and relevant to them since the 1950s. Irrespective of its connection with British rule, they still love the song.