National observances, commemorations, and celebrations make up a key part of social life in India. Here is a list of the important days and dates in the Indian calendar and their significance.
January 12: National Youth Day – Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian monk and philosopher who put India on the world map with his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, was born on 12 January 1863. His birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.
January 15: Indian Army Day – The Indian Army is the third largest standing army in the world. Army Day on 15 January commemorates Field Marshal KM Cariappa’s taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief from British General Sir Francis Butcher.
January 23: Netaji Jayanti – Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, one of the most prominent revolutionary leaders of the Indian freedom movement was born on 23 January 1897.
January 26: Republic Day – 26 January, celebrated as Republic Day, celebrates the day the Indian Constitution replaced the Government of India Act of 1935 as the supreme law of the land. The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution in the world.
January 30: Martyrs’ Day – Martyrs Day (Sarvodaya Day or Shaheed Diwas) in India is the day the nation pays homage to the freedom fighters and those who lay their lives down in the service of the nation. It is on this day that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in the year 1948.
March 16: National Vaccination Day – In 2014, India was declared free of polio by the WHO. It is the aggressive vaccination campaigns that have rid the country of polio, smallpox and such diseases. Since 1995, National Vaccination Day is observed on 16 March, to commemorate the first administration of Oral Polio Vaccine.
April 14: Ambedkar Jayanti – Ambedkar Jayanti, celebrated on 14 April is the birthday of B R Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the (Indian Constitution) Drafting Committee and a leading advocate for the eradication of untouchability in the country.
May 1: May Day – International Workers’ Day or May Day is celebrated in India, in keeping with global norms. The day is dedicated to the efforts of the labour class which forms the foundation of industrial growth and development in India.
May 7: Rabindra Jayanti – Rabindra Jayanti, the birthday of the poet, scholar, and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore is celebrated on 7 May. The date varies, sometimes to correspond with the 25th day of Baisakh in the Bengali calendar. The national anthems of India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are believed to have been derived from his poems.
June 21: International Yoga Day – In 2014, Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, addressed the UN General Assembly and called for the adoption of 21 June (Summer Solstice) as International Yoga Day. The UN adopted this observance to honour the 5000-year-old practice of yoga.
August 8: Quit India Day – On 8 August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement. “Let every Indian consider himself to be a free man,” he said at the launch. The Quit India day is a tribute to this spirit of freedom.
August 15: Independence Day – India regained its independence from British rule after a long and dedicated struggle. The commitment to sovereignty and the sacrifices of the freedom fighters is celebrated on this day. It is one of the three national holidays in the country.
August 29: National Sports Day – Dhyan Chand, the famous Indian hockey player who bagged a number of honours and medals for India was born on 29 August. National Sports Day is observed each year on this day to celebrate his spirit and to promote sporting activities in the country.
September 5: Teachers’ Day – Born on 5 September 1888, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan went on to become a great teacher, an exemplary academician, a philosopher, and India’s second President. His birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day across the country.
October 2: Gandhi Jayanti – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly referred to as Mahatma Gandhi, or Bapu, or even as the Father of the Nation, was born on 2 October 1869. He led the country through its freedom struggle with his ideals of non-violence and truth. His birthday is a national holiday in the country.
October 8: Indian Air Force Day – Indian Airforce is the fourth largest and one of the most competent in the world. It was established on 8 October 1932, and is now one of India’s greatest strengths both in peacetime and war. Indian Air Force Day is celebrated on 8 October.
October 10: National Post Day – India Post, is one of the largest postal networks in the world. Founded in 1774, by the British, the Indian postal system is the harbinger of news and joy throughout rural India. National Post Day is celebrated on 10 October.
November 14: Children’s Day – 14 November, the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, is celebrated as Children’s Day. Nehru’s love for children and firm conviction that they are the future leaders of our nation is commemorated on this day.
December 4: Indian Navy Day – Indian Navy plays a very important role in safeguarding the coasts and water territory. Navy Day, celebrated on 4 December each year honours the sentinels of our seas and the sacrifices they make to safeguard our country.
December 7: Indian Armed Forces Flag Day – Since 1949, India celebrates its Armed Forces Flag Day on 7 December. The day is dedicated to the appreciation of the armed forces and to collect funds for the welfare of the armed forces personnel.
December 23: Kisan Divas – Indian economy is rooted deeply in agriculture. Agriculture, along with allied activities such as fisheries and forestry, is one of the greatest contributors to the national GDP. India observes Kisan Divas on 23 December each year to appreciate the efforts of the farmers.