You may have seen the movie, “Gandhi,” but you may not know the real story. Indian Independence Day, on August 15, reminds us of the long, hard-fought battle for liberation against British domination championed by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Despite the expansive British Empire on which it was said, “the sun never sets,” ragtag groups of liberation fighters and brilliant strategists soundly defeated the British with strong, tactical mobilizing and the persistence that comes from centuries of oppression. Join in the celebration of what Nehru called India’s “Tryst with Destiny.”
Indian Independence Day timeline
- May 10, 1857
The 34th Bengal Native Infantry, Mangal Pandey, rises up against the British East India Company’s army. That triggers an effective rebellion — bringing together a coalition of various civil and political organizations banding together to oppose British oppression.
- December 28, 1885
Indian National Congress
The Indian National Congress is one of the oldest political groups in the world and was formed out of a coalition of various groups including the National Students Union of India, the Indian Youth Congress, and the Indian National Trade Union Congress, to name a few.
- April 13, 1919
Jallianwala Bagh Massacre
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre involves British troops firing into a massive crowd of unarmed Indian civilians in Amritsar — an event which motivated Gandhi to lead a movement of non-violent resistance in the struggle for independence.
The Indian National Congress gathers at Lahore and resolves to fight for "Purna Swaraj" or total liberation.
- August 15, 1947
By midnight of India's first day as an independent, sovereign nation, pundit Jawaharlal Nehru reinforces India's liberation with his iconic “Tryst with Destiny” speech.
How to Observe Indian Independence Day
Make it a family affair
Gather family and friends together for an outing at the park, a special dinner or strolling in a garden. The main thing is to get with the people you hold dear and spend quality time celebrating this special day of India's liberation.
Go fly a kite
Bet you didn't know that kite flying has a revered place in India because it is a symbol for Indian Independence Day. If you can't be in India for the festivities; head to your nearest park or beach, unfurl your brightest-colored kite and fly in honor of India's day of freedom.
Shout “Vande Mataram!”
Every liberation movement has its rallying cry. “Vande Mataram” became a slogan to inspire India's freedom fighters as they battled the British. On Indian Independence Day, get family and friends together before, during or after festivities and shout out "Vande Mataram!"
4 Things To Know About India's "Tryst With Destiny" Celebration
The day starts with a 21-gun salute
On Indian Independence Day, the prime minister hoists the Indian flag from Red Fort, Delhi, while someone sings the National Anthem and soldiers fire off a 21-gun salute to commemorate the event.
The date changed
The actual date of India's independence is July 18, 1947, but Britain's Lord Mountbatten changed the date to coincide with the second anniversary of Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces on August 15.
Flag symbolizes progress
India's original flag was made up of the two symbolic colors of red and green, but Gandhi suggested adding a white strip in the middle with a spinning wheel to represent India's national progress.
There's a mandatory no-fly zone
Safety measures call for a ban on air traffic over Delhi's historic Red Fort.
Why Indian Independence Day is Important
It's the most important day in India's long history
Indian Independence Day is the nation's most beloved holiday because the Indian people liberated themselves from the British without having massive armies or a national treasury. It's also incredible when you consider the length of British rule in India. During the 1700s, India's colorful fabrics and aromatic spices lured British traders to the Indian subcontinent. After 100 years, the British East India Company had a firm grip on all aspects of India's economy in a monopoly sanctioned by — and benefiting — the British government.
Gandhi and the Indian National Congress led the liberation movements
"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind," was a saying by one of India's most famous leaders, Mahatma Gandhi. Trained as a lawyer, he was among the first to call for Indians to have self-determination for their country. Through his spiritual practice of "ahimsa," meaning "doing no harm," Gandhi raised non-violent resistance to a form of political action. Gandhi, Nehru, and other Indian leaders formed the Indian National Congress to strategize against British rule and to mobilize the masses in the struggle.
Liberation created one of the world's great nations
After years of struggle and deprivation, the Indian people threw off the shackles of British domination. After WWII, thanks to the determination of Indian freedom fighters, on August 15, 1947, the British Parliament transferred legislative sovereignty to the Constituent Assembly of India with the Indian Independence Act.