When is National Sports Day and why do we celebrate it?
The sole reason behind celebrating National Sports Day lies in championing the spirit of sportsmanship and propagating the message of various sports.
In a country where the people have been conditioned to dote over cricket and football, few know that India relegates an entire day to celebrate the glory of all kinds of sports. The National Sports Day is observed on 29th August every year and coincides with the birthday of legendary hockey Olympian, Dhyan Chand Singh. The National Sports Day which is also known as the Rashtriya Khel Divas was first inducted into the long list of celebratory days in 2012. Ever since then it has been the centre of attraction for ardent sports lovers of the country.
The sole reason behind celebrating National Sports Day lies in championing the spirit of sportsmanship and propagating the message of various sports. The states of Punjab and Haryana are particularly involved in this and the celebrations are done with a lot of pomp and flair. Various competitions are organized ranging from kabaddi, marathon, basketball, tennis, football, cricket among others while talent hunts are conducted at the same time, all in the combined effort to promote sporting talent.
The persona of Dhyan Chand
In India's rich sporting history, the exemplary figure of Dhyan Chand Singh clearly cuts out a mark for himself. Born in the city of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh on 29th August 1905, Singh was regarded as a prodigy in the field of hockey. During his years as a professional hockey player, Singh won the Olympic gold medal on three occasions- 1928, 1932 and 1936, cementing his position in the pages of history. More famously, during the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the outset of World War II, Adolf Hitler was visibly impressed by seeing this "Hockey ke Jaadugar" (Wizard) at play. The colourful personality of Dhyan Chand Singh is well remembered because of his tacit refusal in saluting the great dictator during the hockey finals against Germany in 1936. However, Hitler was so overwhelmed by Singh and his performance against the Fatherland that he desired to buy Singh's hockey stick out of admiration for the three-time Olympic gold medalist.
By and by, Dhyan Chand Singh was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 1956, which is the third-highest civilian honor. Thereafter, his birthday has been regarded as the Rashtriya Khel Divas with various tournaments being organized all over the country. The celebration highlights the overall importance of sports and gives a nudge to the masses in realizing the necessity of sporting activities in maintaining a healthy and fit body. The legends of various sports are remembered on this day whilst the present and budding sporting icons are lauded. The spirit of healthy competition is encouraged and different schools organize races and matches in celebration of the day.
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Indian sports awards
The other important event that takes place on Dhyan Chand Singh's birthday is that the Rashtriya Bhawan organizes the Special Award Ceremony in honour of the sporting heroes. The President of India takes this day to hand out the prestigious awards like the Arjuna Award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the Dronacharya Award to the various sportsmen who have done the country proud in that year. The Dhyan Chand award is synonymous to the 'Lifetime Achievement' award in sports and is the highest on the list. Among this year's notable Arjuna awardees we have Mohammed Anas Yahiya (athletics), Anjum Moudgil (shooting), Ajay Thakur (kabaddi), Sai Praneeth (badminton) and Swapna Barman(athletics) among others.
The National Sports Day is a gala celebration of sporting talent in our country. Truth be told, India is packed with individuals who have the flair for sports, in every nook and cranny of the nation. The Rashtriya Khel Divas prioritizes in promoting this talent whereby India can scale higher glories in the international sphere. Most importantly, the day celebrates every sport as an equal and the limelight is not cast selectively but shines bright on every one of them, kindling the fire and passion within the athletes anew.