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December 30th: U Kiang Nangbah in India – History and Background

U Kiang Nangbah is a public holiday in Meghalaya on 30th December every year to honour his sacrifice of life.

Meghalaya, the northeastern state of India, is a beautiful place with a beautiful history. U Kiang Nangbah was a freedom fighter from Meghalaya who was a martyr in the Indian freedom struggle. On 30th December 1862, he was hanged by the British publicly. Every year, this day is an opportunity to commemorate the much-respected freedom fighter. 30th December is a regional holiday in Meghalaya and it is also named after him, U Kiang Nangbah. 

History and Background

Almost 18% of the state’s population is of the Jaintias, the tribal ethnic group. The British East India Company annexed the Jaintia Kingdom to become a part of the Assam Province in the mid 19th century. The British control was resisted by heroes of various tribes who have been immortalised in a series of public holidays in Meghalaya.

Among these, U Kiang Nangbah was a freedom fighter from the Jaintia tribe. As a farmer, he was driven to protect his motherland. Unfair taxations were imposed by the British and the religious traditions were disturbed. He was elected the leader of the Jaintia tribe and he led attacks on the British. However, one of his team members betrayed him. Hence he was captured by the British and hanged publicly at Lawmusiang in the Jowai town. 


Nangbah was honoured by the government of India by declaring 30th December, his martyr day, as a holiday. In 1967, a government college was opened in the town of Jowai in his honour. A postage stamp was issued by the government in his name in 2001.

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