The 19th Laxmibai martyrdom fair will be held on 17 and 18 June in Gwalior. Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel will be the chief guest. Boxer Mary Kom, environmentalist Sunita Narain and food sovereignty advocate Vandana Shiva will be feted with National Veerangana Awards for 2016, 2017, and 2018 respectively during the Mela.
Veerangana Laxmibai Balidan Mela Ayojan Samiti celebrates this event every year on the occasion of Rani Laxmibai’s death anniversary. Laxmibai was martyred on 18 June in Gwalior city on the bank of the Swarnrekha river where her Samadhi is built and a statue of her on a horse is installed.
The Mela has been celebrated for the past 19 years at the Samadhi Sthal (cenotaph).
Madhya Pradesh higher education minister and former national convener of Bajrang Dal, Jaibhan Singh Pabaiya, started the fair in 2000 and is the founder chairperson of the Balidan Mela Committee.
Initially, the organising committee gave the awards on their own but since 2006 the state government’s culture department has been giving the awards to brave women who have performed well at the national and international level.
The Madhya Pradesh government has feted P T Usha, Bachendri Pal and Gunjan Saxena with National Veerangana Awards during the mela in Gwalior. A sum of Rs 2 lakh, a certificate of appreciation and a shawl-shriphal (coconut) are given to the awardees.
“Upcoming generation should know about the martyrdom of ‘Rani of Jhansi’. It is the aim behind the organising of Veerangana Balidan Mela in Gwalior where Rani was martyred durring a fight agaist the British troops on 18 June 1857,” Pabaiya said.
A grand show, based on the life of Rani, is performed every year, an exhibition of weapons and photographs of the 1857 freedom struggle is also held every year. Shahid Jyoti Yatra will be launched at the Rani’s Samadhi Sthal here from the Jhansi Fort on 17 June evening before the event starts.
Bande Mataram group will perform the ‘Khoob Ladi Mardani’ play in which the life of Rani Laxmibai will be showcased by male and female artists. The group is well equipped with horses, elephants, Raths, buggies and hydraulic stage. Singer Anuradha Poudwal will perform her Bhajans and Rashtriya Geet. A Kavi Sammelan will also be organised in which famous poets will read their poems. Santosh Anand, a Bollywood film lyricist, will perform patriotic songs.
“The organising committee also awards the family members of our real heros of Indian freedom struggle and the widows of our brave soldiers who lost their lives in wars and in securing the borders of the country,” said Dr Hari Mohan Purohit, programme coordinator.
“We have awarded ‘Kranti Veer Samman’ to the family members of Rani Laxmibai, Tatya Tope, Bal Ganadhar Tilak, Chandrashekhar Azad, Vir Savarkar and Hukum Chand Jain, etc. The committee has also honoured 29 war widows in the Balidan Mela,” Purohit said.
The daughter of freedom fighter Batukeshwer Dutt of Patna, will be honoured by the committee with ‘Kranti Veer Saman’ this year.