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Independence Day

Independence Day 2018 and 2019

Bangladeshi Independence Day, also known as “National Day” and “the 26th of March”, is a public holiday that commemorates Bangladesh’s separation from Pakistan to become an independent nation.

201826 MarMonIndependence Day
201926 MarTueIndependence Day

The declaration of Independence came late on the night of March 25, 1971, and was the culmination of a long struggle with the ruling regime nearly 1,000 miles to the west. Between 1947 and 1971, Bangladesh fought for equal status for their language (Bengali) with the official Pakistani language (Urdu) and for equal treatment within the union. Ultimately, they felt that the geographical separation and cultural differences between themselves and West Pakistan made independence as natural as it was just.

A nine-month-long guerilla war followed Bangladesh’s declaration of autonomy, and the conflict would result in the loss of 100,000 lives. Pakistan committed many atrocities against the people of Bangladesh to keep them under their rule, but ultimately, India intervened on the side of Bangladesh and rendered them victorious. The war finally ended on December 16th of 1971.

In keeping Independence Day, Bangladeshis hold numerous parades, fairs, and concerts. Many politicians deliver patriotic speeches, which are broadcast on t.v. and radio, and patriotic singing also abounds. The streets of Dhaka and other cities are decked out with Bangladeshi flags, and the whole nation is in a celebratory mood.

Should you be in Bangladesh at this time of year, here are some events you should take note of:

  • The Independence Day Award ceremony is of great moment on the eve of Bangladeshi Independence Day, and though it may be difficult to attend in person, you can likely see it on t.v. Begun in 1977, it is the highest government-given award in the nation. It recognizes various areas of achievement, including education, literature, military service, scientific endeavors, agriculture, and sports. Those who win the awards will be given a gold medal, a special certificate, and cash.
  • Independence Day celebrations officially begin at dawn with a 31-gun salute, but they then continue at various monuments and memorials throughout the country. There are ceremonies at Jatiyo Smriti Soudho, a memorial dedicated to the freedom fighters of the war for independence. You may also want to visit the National Monument in Savar, the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban, and the Shahid Mina.
  • A “must-see” stop in Dhaka is the Liberation War Museum. The museum houses or keeps in storage over nine million artifacts concerned with the Liberation War and the events immediately preceding and following it. Galleries cover the early history of Bangladesh, British rule and independence from India, the Language Movement, which gave the first impetus to the desire for independence, and the Liberation War itself. You can see many items donated by the freedom fighters and the families of those killed in the Pakistani suppression.

Bangladesh is a land starkly different than those of the Western Hemisphere, and visiting it during Independence Day celebrations offers a unique glimpse into its culture and history. It is also, however, a busy time of year for travel, so be sure to book early and plan far ahead.