Victory Day: December 16
Victory Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh.
Victory day, referred to as Bijôe Dibôsh in Bengali, celebrates the end of an armed conflict known as the Bangladesh Liberation War involving West Pakistan, East Pakistan, and India. The conflict gave birth to Bangladesh with the separation of East Pakistan from West Pakistan. It is also a day to honor all of those that died in the war.
History of Victory Day
Pakistan was created by at the moment of its independence from Britain in 1947. The country was composed of East and West Pakistan, separated by Indian territory. Both Pakistans had different languages and distinct cultures. East Pakistan had the majority of Pakistan’s population; however, the people of East Pakistan were exploited, marginalized, and persecuted by West Pakistan. This led to a buildup of grievance and anger towards West Pakistan, resulting in a war that broke out in March 1971.
The western army launched an attack over Bengali civilians asking for separation from West Pakistan. Bengalis then formed the Mukti Bahini, or Liberation Army, and fought the western army with guerrilla warfare tactics. India then came in to the conflict by providing economic, diplomatic, and military aid to the Liberation Army, marking the beginning of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. On December 16 of the same year, after a few months of conflict, the allied Indian and Liberation Army forces defeated Pakistani armies deployed in the east. Bangladesh declared itself independent with the support of India.
Victory Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
For Victory day, people in Bangladesh dress in the country’s colors of green and red, with face paintings and flags hanging from everywhere in the streets. The National Mausoleum at Savar is literally invaded with people paying homage to their liberation war martyrs. The president lays flowers in the mausoleum followed by several politicians and public figures. Speeches are given, and the president reviews the army in a national parade. The day is also an opportunity for Bengalis to ask for justice from Pakistan for war atrocities. Other celebrations are held nationwide and worldwide in Bengali communities, consisting of Holy Quran recitations, the national anthem, and reflections upon the events of the war.