In order to remember the rich culture and heritage of the tribal society in the country, the central government designated the birth anniversary of Dharti Aba Bhagwan Birsa Munda as Tribal Pride Day in the country last year.
Yes, The Government declared 15th November as ‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ dedicated to the memory of brave tribal freedom fighters.
15th November is the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda who is revered as Bhagwan by tribal communities across the country.
Now, continuing this trend, we are today celebrating the Birth Anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda as Tribal Pride Day.
President Draupadi Murmu today paid homage to Bhagwan Birsa Munda on the second Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas at Birsa Munda’s village Ulihatu in Khunti district of Jharkhand.
Birsa Munda was an iconic freedom fighter, social reformer, and revered tribal leader of the country, who fought bravely against the exploitative system of the British colonial government.
He spearheaded a tribal religious millenarian movement that arose in the Bengal Presidency (now Jharkhand) in the late 19th century, during the British Raj, thereby making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement.
During my school days, I read about Birsa Munda in my Hindi book the article was .. Birsa ne Bagh Mara (Birsa kills Tiger). Still, I remember the story and would like to share some facts and figures about Bhagwan Birsa Munda.
- On 15 November 1875, tribal freedom fighter and religious leader Birsa Munda was born in Ulihatu in the district Khunti, Jharkhand.
- They belong to a Munda family. His parents were Sugana Munda and Karmi Hatu. Birsa Munda was an important personality in Indian freedom.
- His childhood was spent in a typical Munda fashion amidst poverty. He converted to Christianity and became Birsa David in order to receive an education from a missionary school.
- He spent a great part of his childhood in Chaibasa. He was influenced by the national movement there. His father withdrew him from the missionary school. Birsa developed a strong anti-government and anti-missionary stamp on his mind from there.
- During the 1890s, he started speaking to his people about the exploitation by the British. The British agrarian policies were stifling the tribal people and disrupting their way of life which was hitherto peaceful and in tune with nature. Another problem was that of cultural belittlement of the tribal people by the Christian missionaries.
- The Mundas had followed the Khunkhatti system of joint landholding. The British replaced this egalitarian system with the Zamindari System. Outsiders entered the tribal landscape and started exploiting them. In their own turf, they became forced labourers. Poverty descended on them like a strangling chain.
- In 1894, Birsa announced his declaration against the British and the Dikus (outsiders), and thus began the Munda Ulgulan. This is a very important rebellion of the tribal people among the various uprisings of the tribals and peasants in India in the 19th century.
- Birsa also started his own religion and proclaimed he was god’s messenger. Many Mundas, Kharias, and Oraons accepted him as their leader. Many other Hindus and Muslims also flocked to see the new leader of the masses.
- They held several tribal movements across different regions of India against British colonial rule. These tribal communities include Tamars, Santhals, Khasis, Bhils, Mizos, and Kols to name a few.
- Birsa advocated the tribal people to shun the missionaries and revert to their traditional ways. He also asked people not to pay taxes.
- He was arrested in 1895 and released after two years. In 1899, he resumed his armed struggle along with the people. He razed police stations, government property, churches, and houses of Zamindars.
- The British caught him in 1900 from Jamkopai forest, Chakradharpur. Birsa Munda died on June 9th, 1900 while lodged at the Ranchi jail aged just 25.
Even though he is not among us today, but he is still alive in folklore, folk songs, and tribal literature. Celebrating his birth anniversary will be meaningful only when we do not just worship him, but make his thoughts a part of our life and follow the path shown by him. This will be our true tribute.
(Picture Source: Google.com)
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