The Indian Government on November 10th approved the declaration of 15 November, the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda, as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’. The government has planned week-long celebrations from 15 November to 22 November to commemorate the history of tribal people, culture and achievements.
Birsa Munda, born on 15 November, 1875, was a freedom fighter, leader and folk hero from the Munda Tribe of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau area. As Birsa Munda grew, he became more aware of the British atrocities and participated in anti-missionary and anti-establishment activities.
Between 1888 and 1890, he started a movement called ‘Ulgulan’ or ‘The Great Tumult’ in Chaibasa to fight for the rights of the tribal people. One of his biggest fights against the British was in October 1894 when he gathered tribal people and marched for the remission of tax collected by the zamindars from the tribes. He also coined the slogan, ‘Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana’ which means ‘End the kingdom of the queen, create our kingdom’.
Birsa Munda also fought for the freedom of faith of the tribals in response to the large-scale conversion by the Christian missionaries. He encouraged his community members who had been converted to get back to their tribal roots and follow their traditions.
In March 1900, Birsa Munda was arrested from Jamkopai forest while fighting the British in Chakradharpur. A few months later, on 9 June, he passed away in custody.
Janjatiya Gaurav Divas
Along with honouring Birsa Munda, the Janjatiya Gaurav Divas will also honour other brave tribal freedom fighters and make citizens aware of their sacrifices. The day will be celebrated every year and would recognise the efforts of tribals in preservation of cultural heritage of the country.
The week-long celebrations will also showcase the unique tribal practices, rights, traditions, cuisines, health, education and livelihood.