Thousands of people are expected to rally across Catalonia, an autonomous community in east Spain, on Monday to mark its National Day, in a show of support seeking independence from the country, The Guardian reported.

Since 2012, the “Diada” day on September 11, which commemorates the fall of Barcelona to Spain in 1714, has turned into a political event. It is often used by activists to demand an independent state.

Jordi Sànchez, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, said the proposed October referendum had given significance to this year’s Diada. He said it showed a commitment to sovereignty through the vote and a desire to resolve the conflict that has been on for about six years.

“Today, for a lot of people, the Diada is the day when you can show your unequivocal support for a future that’s different from the past and the present,” he said.

This year, the day has a special name – “la Diada del Sí” is Catalan for the National Day of Yes.

Rising hostility

Tensions have been high between Madrid and Catalonia since the Spanish government blocked Barcelona’s planned referendum to split from it. On September 6, Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont had signed a decree that officially called for a “self-determination referendum of Catalonia” on October 1. “Catalonia belongs to this world that looks forward, and that is why it will decide its own future on October 1,” Puigdemont had said.

On September 7, Spain’s Constitutional Court had suspended the referendum following a legal challenge by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Spain had said it was contrary to the Constitution, which specifies that only national authorities can call for such a referendum.

In November 2014, Catalonia had held an independence referendum, despite Spain’s Constitutional court declaring it illegal days earlier. A majority of the votes cast in that referendum were in favour of independence from Spain. However, the turnout was only 40%.