On February 19, every year, Shivaji Jayanti is celebrated to pay tribute to the great Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This year, the day marks the 391st birth anniversary of Shivaji Bhonsle, also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
On this day, people remember his teachings, courage, and contribution in establishing the Maratha Empire. The warrior king founded the empire by banding together Maratha clans along the Western Ghats against the Mughal, Adilshahi and Nizam domination of Marathi-speaking territories.
Born in Shivneri fort in Junnar tehsil of Pune, Shivaji belonged to the Bhonsle-Maratha clan. He established the Maratha kingdom, with Raigarh as its capital. On June 6, 1674, he was crowned as the Chhatrapati – the King of Marathas.
Amid the pandemic this year, the celebration will not be similar to other years. However, there’s not less excitement and enthusiasm in celebrating the event virtually. Prime Miniter Narendra Modi paid his tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on his birth anniversary.
“I pay my respects to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the immortal son of Mother India, on his birth anniversary. The saga of his indomitable courage, amazing valor, and extraordinary intelligence will continue to inspire the countrymen for ages. Jai Shivaji!” PM Modi wrote on Twitter.
Besides the PM, other prominent leaders like former Maharashtra CM Sharad Pawar, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar also paid tribute to the seventeenth-century warrior king on Twitter.
“My humble tributes to the legendary Maratha warrior king, Chhatrapati #ShivajiMaharaj on his birth anniversary today. He was a devout patriot, outstanding administrator, exceptional strategist and a benevolent ruler. His heroic life continues to inspire every Indian. #Shivaji,” wrote the Vice President of India.
Every year, reading sessions are held in educational institutions, particularly in Maharashtra, where the tales of Shivaji’s conquest and reign are shared. Cultural organisations in the state organise street plays, reading sessions and other activities to celebrate Shivaji’s legacy among younger generation.
Popular regional movies and documentary shows on Shivaji Maharaj and his empire are telecasted on regional TV networks.
Shivaji Jayanti History:
The day was first celebrated by Lokmanya Tilak in 1895 with the first event in Pune. Since then Shiv Jayanti expanded on a large scale. In the 20th century, Babasaheb Ambedkar also celebrated Shiv Jayanti, (19 Feb, according to Julian date) and was twice the president of Shiv Jayanti’s program.
About Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj:
Shivaji Maharaj is considered the greatest Maratha ruler who carved an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur and laid foundations of the Maratha Empire. At the young age of 16, Shivaji Maharaj seized the Torna fort and by the age of 17 had seized the Raigad and Kondana forts.
Many medieval-era forts that dot Western Maharashtra and are a key tourist destination were built under his reign and his successors.
Shivaji’s father handed over to him an army of 2,000 soldiers. Shivaji increased its strength to 10,000 soldiers. With his intelligence, he devised guerilla tactics of warfare to fight the mighty Mughal Empire of Aurangzeb.