Khongjom Day in Manipur Date in the current year: April 23, 2024

Khongjom Day in Manipur Khongjom Day is observed on April 23 in the Indian state of Manipur. It honors the memory of those who died in the 1891 Anglo-Manipur War, fighting to protect Manipur’s independence from the British Empire.

During the First Anglo-Burmese war, the British helped Raja Gambhir Singh of Manipur liberate his kingdom from Burmese occupation that had lasted for decades. As a result, Manipur became a British protectorate. In 1835, the British sent a political agent to Manipur to represent their interests there.

In 1890, Raja Surachandra Singh was deposed as a result of a palace coup. His brother Kulachandra Singh became the new ruler, but the person with the real power was the third brother, Tikendrajit Singh, who had organized the coup.

Surachandra pretended to abdicate the throne and took refuge in the neighboring Assam Province. He petitioned the British colonial government to help him regain the throne. However, the British chose to recognize Kulachandra as the ruler of Manipur but to arrest Tikendrajit.

In March 1891, James Wallace Quinton, the Chief Commissioner of Assam, arrived in Manipur with a troop of 400 Gurkhas and demanded that the Raja hand over his brother to the British. Kulachandra refused, and five British officers, including Quinton and political agent Frank Grimwood, were killed in the ensuing skirmish. Grimwood’s widow Ethel, along with two junior officers, managed to lead the surviving British troops out of the city, for which she would subsequently be awarded a Red Cross Medal by Queen Victoria.

In response, the colonial government assembled expeditionary forces and declared war on Manipur. The British launched three columns that inflicted defeat after defeat on the Manipur troops. The battle on the Khongjom hillock was the decisive battle of the Manipur war; the Manipuri lost about 130 men, while only two British solders were killed and eleven were severely wounded.

After defeating the Manipur troops at Khongjom, the British advanced on the Manipuri capital of Imphal. They found it deserted and hoisted the Union Jack above the Raja’s palace. On May 23, 1891, British authorities arrested Tikendrajit Singh. On August 13, he was executed for his crimes against the British Empire.

On September 22, British installed Meidingngu Churachand as the Raja of Manipur. He was a 5-year-old boy from an offshoot of the royal family. While the British nominally restored the Manipur dynasty, the state was in fact ruled by a British political agent. Due to its defeat in the Anglo-Manipur War, Manipur lost the remnants of its autonomy and became a princely state in the British Empire.

Following India’s independence and Manipur’s statehood, the Government of Manipur declared the anniversary of the battle on the Khongjom hillock a state holiday. Khongjom Day is marked by an official wreath-laying ceremony that takes place at Khongjom War Memorial Complex in Thoubal, with Chief Minister of Manipur, members of the State Legislative Assembly and government official in attendance.

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Khongjom Day in Manipur, holidays in India, holidays in Manipur, Anglo-Manipur War, remembrance days