In the annals of Indian history, Durga Puja symbolizes jubilation and devotion, a time when communities come together to celebrate the goddess’s triumph over evil. However, for the valiant Indian revolutionaries who were incarcerated at the dreaded Cellular Jail in the Andamans during the struggle for independence, Durga Puja as a Weapon of Freedom.
Durga Puja as a Weapon of Freedom
To understand the significance of this act, one must recognize that Durga Puja, for these prisoners, was not just about worship; it was a means to achieve their larger objective: the freedom of India from British colonial rule. The roots of this revolutionary approach to Durga Puja can be traced back to 1935 when W. S. Cosgrave, Chief Commissioner of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, raised a grave concern.
British Clampdown on Durga Puja Celebrations
In the following year, 1936, the British authorities took decisive measures to curb the revolutionary tactics hidden within the celebrations of Durga Puja. Restrictions were imposed, reducing the festivities from four days to just two.
Despite the restrictions, the British government’s efforts could not extinguish the revolutionary spirit of the prisoners. Mohan Lal Saksena’s attempt to send money for the celebration of Durga Puja in the following year faced opposition. A revolutionary had assaulted a jail warden, breaking his nose.
The Unyielding Demand for Religious Freedom
The importance of Durga Puja to the freedom fighters was not limited to the Andamans. Subhas Chandra Bose, an iconic leader in India’s struggle for independence, underlined the significance of religion as an integral part of their lives.
The story of Durga Puja in the context of the Indian freedom struggle is a testament to the unyielding spirit of those who fought for independence. For the revolutionaries in Cellular Jail, Durga Puja was more than just a religious festival; it symbolized their unwavering resolve. It demonstrated their ability to turn even a celebration into a weapon against the oppressive British rule. This untold chapter in history is a powerful reminder of the lengths individuals can go to pursue freedom and justice.
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