India’s independence and nation-building were sewed with the blood and sweat of freedom fighters. While some joined the non-violent side of the struggle, others chose to give a taste of their own medicine to the Britishers. In order to remember and celebrate the lives dedicated to the national cause, Martyrs Day (or Shaheed Diwas) is observed TWICE every year.
Why does India have two different Martyrs’ Day/Shaheed Diwas?
In the evening of January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated with three bullets at point-blank range by Nathuram Godse in front of more than 1,000 people at Gandhi Smriti in the Birla House. The death of the 78-year old national hero shocked the nation as Gandhi’s ideology of non-violence and peaceful protests supported the cause of independence till his last breath. This is why Gandhi’s death anniversary is annually observed as Martyrs’ Day.
The second celebration is organized on March 23 – the day when Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru were hanged by the Britishers. In 1931, at Lahore Central Jail, the three sons of the nation achieved ‘Shahadat’ (martyrdom) at the age of 23. Although their path of violence was criticized by various freedom fighters at that time, their ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ managed to lay the foundation of Indian independence in its own way.
How is Martyrs’ Day/Shaheed Diwas commemorated?
The Prime Minister, President, Vice-President, Defence Minister, and three Army Chiefs commemorate Martyrs’ Day by visiting the memorials ie. Samadhi at Raj Ghat and National Martyrs Memorial, Punjab associated with the freedom fighters on their respective death anniversaries.
Their memorials are decorated with flower garlands by the honorary people present at the location followed by a 2-minute silence observed across the country every year at 11 AM. The silence marks the remembrance of their contribution to the country’s fabric. This is followed by bugles and reverse rifle display from the regiment on point.
Martyr’s Day or Shaheed Diwas is a day of pride, nationalism, and honor for the citizens of India.