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Independence Day of Sri Lanka 2020: Date, History and Significance of the Day Commemorating Sri Lankan Independence Movement


Independence Day of Sri Lanka (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Happy Independence Day 2020, Sri Lanka: Like India, Sri Lanka was a colony of the United Kingdom (UK) too. Sri Lanka celebrates its Independence Day every year on February 4. The day is considered to be a national holiday, and there are widespread celebrations across the country. The Sri Lankan Independence Day is celebrated to commemorate their political independence from the British rule in 1948. If you are searching for more information on Sri Lankan Independence Day, or say Sri Lankan National Day, then you have come at the right place. 

What Is the Story of Sri Lankan Independence Movement?

In the early 19th century, during the Napoleonic Wars, Great Britain feared that France would gain control of Sri Lanka, and hence occupied the coastal areas of the island (which was then called Ceylon). In 1802, the British signed the Treaty of Amiens which saw the Dutch part of the island nation formally being ceded to them. 

In 1803, the British invaded Kandy, known as Kandyan War I, but were successfully thwarted by the regional forces. However, in 1815, they tried to invade again, known as Kandyan War II and were successful in their quest this time. This victory saw the end of Sri Lanka’s independence. 

In 1840, the Britishers were successful in their attempt to suppress the Uva Rebellion, known as Kandyan III War, which further strengthened their hold on the island nation. Since then, the British plundered the state economy to their benefit and left the country in a state of penury. 

However, they also proposed and introduced several democratic elements in the country and gave the role of self-government to the Burghers community as early as 1833. Burghers were those high-caste Sinhalese and Tamils who mainly belonged to the northern part of the country. It was in 1909 when the island nation saw a few constitutional values being integrated into the system. In 1920, it was for the first time when the elected members outnumbered the official appointees of the British government.

To fight the suppression, injustice, inequality among other factors (mainly of independence), the Ceylon National Congress (CNC) was formed. However, the party was spilt due to difference in opinions, wherein a side wanted to fight for ‘complete independence’, while the other was okay with the Dominion status initially. Another political group known as Marxist Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) made the demand for outright independence in 1935. 

After a decade of infighting, fighting against the British, and thousands sacrificing their lives for independence it was in 1944, a draft of the Constitution was prepared. A lot of prominent personalities were a part of a group that prepared the unofficial Constitution. 

It is also said that a small group of Sri Lankan Army mutinied against the British Raj during the Second World War, taking advantage of the grim situation that Great Britain was in. They even collaborated with the Japanese and formed the ‘Lanka Regiment’. It was then in 1944 when Sri Lanka succeeded in earning its freedom. 

Elections took place in 1947 in Sri Lanka that was won by United National Party (UNP). It was on February 4, 1948, when Sri Lanka was finally accorded the Dominion status, with the top ranks in Armed Forces was occupied by the British officials. And almost two decades later, Sri Lanka attained complete freedom in 1972. It was on May 22, when the island nation breathed the fresh air of complete independence for the first time. 

Sri Lanka, like other British colonies, saw a wave of struggles across the country for nearly a century. However, it braved the weather and ensured that it was freed from the clutches of Great Britain. The Independence Day, i.e. February 4, sees the President raising the national flag and delivering the official speech to the nation. The Sri Lanka National Day celebrates, mourns, and remembers the ones who gave their lives during the freedom struggle. We at LatestLY, wish every Sri Lankan a very ‘Happy Independence Day 2020’.