U Tirot Sing Day in Meghalaya Date in the current year: July 17, 2024

U Tirot Sing Day in Meghalaya U Tirot Sing Day is an annual commemoration day observed in the Indian state of Meghalaya. It is the death anniversary of Tirot Sing (also known as U Tirot Sing Syiem), a 19th-century chief of the Khasi people, which is the largest ethnic group in Meghalaya, and a leader of the Khasis’ struggle against British colonization.

The Khasi people are an indigenous ethnic group of Meghalaya. They mostly inhabit the eastern part of the state, namely the East and West Khasi Hill districts. The Khasis first came in contact with the British in 1823, after the latter annexed neighboring Assam. The Khasi Hills were situated between British possessions in Sylhet and Lower Assam; the British wanted to construct a road connecting their possessions through the hills to save weeks of travel through malaria-ridden areas.

David Scott, the agent to the British Governor-General, entered into negotiations with Tirot Sing, the Khasi chief of Nongkhlaw. He promised Sing to help him regain possessions in the Dooars (alluvial floodplains that lie north of the Brahmaputra River basin) in return for the permission to construct a road through the Khasi Hills. After a two-day discussion with other Khasi chiefs, Tirot Sing gave the permission, and the British commenced the road project.

Unfortunately, the relations between the Khasis and the British quickly turned sour. When Tirot Sing heard that the British were expanding their military presence in Assam, he once again consulted with the chiefs of other Khasi clans and demanded that the British stop the road construction and withdraw their troops from Nongkhlaw. The British refused, and the Khasis led by Tirot Sing attacked the British garrison in Nongkhlaw and killed two officers on April 4, 1829.

In retaliation, the British initiated military operations against Khasi chiefs. So began the Anglo-Khasi War that lasted for four years. Sadly, the Khasis stood no chance in open combat with the British: while the British had firearms, the Khasis were armed with only bows, arrows, swords and shields. Therefore, they had to resort to guerrilla warfare, avoiding open battles where enemy could kill them from a distance.

Tirot Sing was wounded in battle with the British and had to hide in a cave, waiting for his wound to heal. The British bribed one of the Khasi chief into revealing the location of his hiding place and captured Tirot Sing in January 1833. He was deported to Dhaka, where he died in jail on July 17, 1835, aged 32/33.

The Khasis eventually lost the war, and the British gained full control over the Khasi Hills, which were merged with Assam in 1835. In 1972, the Khasi Hills, the Jaintia Hills and the Garo Hills were separated from the state of Assam to form the new state of Meghalaya.

Tirot Sing’s death anniversary is an official holiday in Meghalaya. On the occasion, Meghalayan universities and schools organize various events and activities dedicated to the national hero of the Khasis who led the freedom struggle of his people against the British.

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U Tirot Sing Day in Meghalaya, holidays in Meghalaya, holidays in India, remembrance days, regional observances