Home > Bengal Festival, Bengal History, General > Independence Day Celebration 18 August, Shivnibas

Independence Day Celebration 18 August, Shivnibas

Independence Day Celebration, 18 August

Shivnibas (Shivniwas), Nadia, West Bengal, India

Join me on a tour of Shivnibas on 18 August 2017. Contact Alinda Barbhan of Let us Go at +919831020400

Independence Day Celebration 18 August!!!! Its not a typo but result of a cartographic error made by Sir Cyril Radcliffe 66 years ago.

Boat Race on Churni River, Independence Day Celebration (18 Aug) , Shivnibas, Nadia

Boat Race on Churni River, Independence Day Celebration (18 Aug), Shivnibas, Nadia

It was 15 August 1947 and Independence of India, but the independence came with the horrors of partitions, forming the two new domains of India and Pakistan.

Female Senior Citizens, Shibnibas, Nadia

Female Senior Citizens, Shibnibas, Nadia

Sir Radcliff, the man responsible for drawing the line of divide in Bengal awarded most of the Nadia district, which had a Hindu majority, to East Pakistan. Massive protests followed and Viceroy Lord Mountbatten ordered an immediate correction to the map. On the evening of 17 August All India Radio (AIR) announced that  the majority of the district of Nadia to be part of India.

Celebration followed the next day and the Pakistani flag, which was raised by Muslim league in the Krishnanagar (Dist. headquarters of Nadia) was brought down and replaced with the Indian tricolour on 18 August.

Female Senior Citizen Procession, Shivnibas, Nadia

Female Senior Citizen Procession, Shivnibas, Nadia

Sadly this event has long been forgotten and it was only in 1998 a young man named Anjan Sukul from the border town of Shibnibas decided to celebrate Independence Day of Nadia on 18 August. 

It was not easy task for Sukul. Till 2002, the code governing the display of the tricolour had prohibited citizens from hoisting the national flag on days other than 15 August (Independence Day) and 26 January (Republic Day). So hosting the national flag on any other day was illegal in 1998. This was not to dampen the spirit of Sukul, who had heard about the incident from his grandfather.

L: Banner of 18 Aug. Committee. R: Schedule of 18 Aug. 2013 program

L: Banner of 18 Aug. Committee. R: Schedule of 18 Aug. 2013 program

Armed with a letter from the I&B Ministry’s Directorate of Field Publicity and a nod from the Nadia district administration Sukul went on to hoist the Indian flag on 18 August 1998. Sukul soon formed the August 18 Committee and have been celebrating the Independence Day ever since 1998.

Hoisting of National Flag, Shivnibas

Hoisting of National Flag, Shivnibas

Apart from flag hoisting and the singing of the National Anthem the August 18 Committee also organises various other cultural and social activities like tribal dance, drawing competition, senior citizen walk but the greatest crowd puller happens to be the boat race on Churni River.

18 August 2013 Machdia Station, I was looking for directions to Shibnibas and also enquired about the Independence Day celebration. Strangely people were not aware of such celebrations and the same thing followed in the bus to Shivnibas. But as I got down at Shivnibas people were aware of the celebrations. Crossing the Churni river on boat I made it to the temple town of Shivnibas.

Shivnibas Temples (L: Rajrajeshwar, M: Ram Sita, R: Ragnishwar)

Shivnibas Temples (L: Rajrajeshwar, M: Ram Sita, R: Ragnishwar)

The history of the town of Shivnibas dates far beyond 1947. According to legend, Shivnibas owes its origin to a dream. One in which Lord Shiva appeared before Maharaja Krishnachandra and told him that he was shifting base from Varanasi to his capital. To please the god, the Maharaja set up a new capital at Shivnibas and constructed 108 Shiva temples there.

Before the Boat Race, Shivnibas

Before the Boat Race, Shivnibas

Historians offer a more rational explanation. They maintain that in the middle of the 18th Century, Krishnachandra to save his capital Krishnanagar from the invading Marathas (Bargis) shifted it to Shivniwas, which is surrounded on three sides by the river Churni.

The Maharaja christened the new capital Shivnibas, probably after the god. Some historians though claim that it was named after Krishnachandra’s son Shivachandra.

Only two of the 108 temples exist now. One of them houses the largest shivling in eastern India. The two temples, along with a Ram-Sita temple, and the ruins of Krishnachandra’s palace are all that remain of Shivnibas’s glorious past.

Boat Race, Shivnibas

Boat Race, Shivnibas

I soon met Anjan Sukul, who soon became my beloved Anjan da. There was some bad news for me because of the inconsistent rain the tribal dance was called off but the procession of the senior lady citizen was on and so was the boat race for women.

The 18 August Independence Day program of 2013 in Shivnibas started with a procession of elderly women. Sporting tricolour hair bands with “I love my India” and “Mera Bharat Written” written respectively in English and Hindi. The women marched through the village road waving giant national flags.

Boat Race, Shivnibas

Boat Race, Shivnibas

Placards hung from their necks strangely they carried messages in Bengali on the Gorkhaland issue. “Gorkha Bangali Bhi Bhi” (Gorkhas and Bengalis are brothers) and “Bongo – Bhnaga are noy” (No more division of Bengal). The slogans were also related to the same issue.

The procession ended with the hoisting of the tricolour. In 2013 Anjan da decided to hoist the National Flag on a open berg at the middle of the river Churni. A portrait of Netaji Subhas Bose was placed at the base of the flag pole while a little girl dressed as Bharat Mata stood next to it. The Indian Flag was hoisted by a retired school teacher of Shibnibas with the National Anthem playing in the background.

18 Aug. Independence Day Celebration, Shivnibas, Nadia, WB

18 Aug. Independence Day Celebration, Shivnibas, Nadia, WB

The last event the women boat race (locally called Nukobaich) was definitely the centre of attraction. Three boats beautifully decorated with the tricolour plashed their way through the swelling Churni River. There were no winners the in the race but 18 August Committee was definitely the winner!!!!

Join me on a tour of Shivnibas on 18 August 2017. Contact Alinda Barbhan of Let us Go at +919831020400

  1. Archana
    August 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Darun bhalo laglo….

  2. August 21, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Thanks Rangan da for your beautiful contribution

  3. A.K.Sircar
    August 23, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    Rangan, thank you very much.

  4. Nilima
    August 25, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Happy story. Jai Hind.

  5. Amaresh Kumar Parhi
    May 12, 2016 at 4:48 PM

    Jai janani…

  6. Subhabrata Ghose
    July 24, 2018 at 1:02 PM

    Rangan: would request you let us know the source from where you got that undivided Nadia was a Hindu majority district?
    My paternal grandfather as an ICS in his thirties was part of W. W. M. Yeatts team who was the then Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India in 1941, and I have a original copy of the census abstract. According to that census official records, undivided Nadia had 5 subdivisions and 25 police stations. Out of which only 2 subdivisions and 13 police stations were Hindu majority.Hindus comprised just ~ 37.39 % of the population at 657,950; Muslims comprised of 1,078,007 or ~ 61.26% of the population. Balance 23,889 or ~ 1.36% were mainly Christians, animist tribal, people who professed adhering to no religion, Sikhs, Jain or Buddhists.
    The map appended to the Boundary Commission report (again my paternal grandfather was a part of the same in his official capacity and I have an original copy) published on 17th August, depicted that the whole of Nadia sans Nabadwip being awarded to Pakistan. Muslim League leaders thus hoisted Pakistan flags near the Krishnagar Rajbari and the Public Library ground. Viceroy Lord Mountbatten, on receiving such news, immediately instructed Radcliffe to look into the matter. After careful scrutiny, he identified the problem, a minuscule but dramatic error. A line had been drawn wrongly, due to which a large part of Nadia had erroneously gone to East Pakistan. The map was rectified and the final announcement regarding the actual division took place on 18 August 1947, a full day after the formal declaration, keeping the local residents on tenterhooks. To have law and order under control, supposedly under the request of Pt. Nehru, the commission report was not published on 15th August, but on 17th. Nobody knew the exact partition lines in Bengal and Punjab before that.

    For further reading (in case you are interested), refer South Asia Research Journal Vol. 34 (2) : 2014 by Sage Publishers article “Population Movements in West Bengal: A Case Study of Nadia District, 1947 – 1951” sponsored by the University of Berkeley, CA, US. It is available online http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0262728014533850 .

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