India has witnessed many great personalities walk on its soil and fight for it. Fights which even led to dire consequences and extreme situations. However, there were a few extraordinary people, the Indian freedom fighters, who have moved heaven and earth to give the nation its freedom from the British raj. Such people deserve to be remembered and saluted for their selfless acts. Shaheed Diwas (Martyrs’ Day) is one of the most crucial days for our country to pay homage to such people. In this blog let’s go through the Importance and other details about Shaheed Diwas in India.
“By crushing individuals, they cannot kill ideas.”- Bhagat Singh
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What is Shaheed Diwas or Martyrs’ Day?
Shaheed Diwas is celebrated on 30 January in memory of Mahatma Gandhi following his assassination at Gandhi Smriti in the Birla House. The date 23rd March is also celebrated as Shaheed Diwas to pay tribute to three extraordinary revolutionaries of India- Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, and Sukhdev Thapar who were hanged to death by the British.
‘Shaheed’ is an Arabic term related to the Greek word “martyrs” which means “both a witness and a martyr. It is used for “a person who suffers or dies deliberately for the sake of affirming the truth of a belief system,” according to the definition by David Cook, associate professor at Rice University. In India, the word is associated with people who have sacrificed their lives for the nation. Various freedom fighters and soldiers have received the prefix ‘Shaheed’ for their noble self-sacrifices.
“It is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr.” -Napoleon Bonaparte
Significance of Martyrs’ Day
The significance of celebrating Shaheed Diwas is to emphasize the reason why these freedom fighters gave up their lives. Let’s look at the two major incidents that occurred on 30th January and 23rd March.
Mahatma Gandhi: The Father of Nation was assassinated by Nathuram Godse in the Birla House, New Delhi, on 30 January 1948. He was seen reaching the top of the lawn behind the Birla House where he had been conducting multi-faith prayer meetings every evening. However, on that fateful day when he was walking towards the stand, Godse- who was standing amidst the crowd stepped out and shot Gandhiji thrice at point-blank.
Gandhiji was a courageous freedom fighter to whom India is in debt forever. He was a simple man with a strong determination who had sacrificed his life for the independence, development, and prosperity of India. He brought every citizen together and showed us how we should stand united in diversity.
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”- Mahatma Gandhi
Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru: The three were hanged by the British rulers on March 23, 1931, in Lahore after being tried under charges for hatching a conspiracy against the government. There was a case filed against Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru for allegedly killing British police officer John P Saunders. They were later hanged due to the accusation in the Lahore Jail and their body was cremated at the banks of the Sutlej River. Despite taking a contrasting approach than Gandhiji to fight for freedom, Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru have become an icon for the youth in India. Their sacrifice at the young age of 22-23 is a great reminder for people to stand up in the face of injustice whenever you can.
How Is Shaheed Diwas Observed In India?
- On 30 January- the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, and the Defense Minister come together at the Rajghat to the Samadhi of the Mahatma Gandhi to pay honour to the statue of the Bapu.
- They put around a garland of flowers with an honourable salute that is given by the armed forces personnel and inter-services contingent to pay respect to the martyrs.
- The ceremony is followed by 2 minutes of silence in the memory of the Father of the Nation, and other martyrs throughout the country.
- Various bhajans, religious prayers are also sung and many school students perform acts that display patriotic songs and plays.
Other Important Days
Apart from 30th January and 23rd March, these days are also observed as Shaheed Diwas to honour the sacrifice of other selfless personalities in the history of India.
- Kashmir: 13 July is celebrated as Saheed Diwas (Kashmir Day) in Jammu and Kashmir to pay homage to the death of 22 Martyrs. On 13 July 1931, many people were killed by the British soldiers while demonstrating adjacent to the Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir.
- Odisha: 17th November is celebrated as Martyr’s Day in Odisha to observe the death anniversary of “Lion of Punjab”- Lala Lajpat Rai. He played a crucial role in the freedom struggle of India from the British raj.
- Jhansi: 19th November is celebrated as Martyr’s Day in the Jhansi to honour the birth of Rani Lakshmi Bai. She sacrificed her life during the 1857 revolt.
Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.”- Mahatma Gandhi
Speech on Martyrs’ Day by Reshmika S.V of Class 8 – CIRS
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Shaheed Diwas must be remembered and read by every citizen to understand the struggle behind the glorious national days. We owe our independence to these martyrs who gave India freedom without using any weapons or violence. They have truly left their mark on this nation forever. For more posts on India’s freedom and independence, stay tuned to Leverage Edu!