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UP village that has not celebrated Dussehra since 1857

Tombs in memory of the martyrs of Gagol village who were hung by the British during 1857 on the Dussehra day (Pic. Courtesy jogharshwardhan.blogspot.com)

Gagol may be a nondescript village of Uttar Pradesh but it has the singular distinction of probably being the only place in India that does not celebrate Dussehra.

While others everywhere are immersed in festivities, this village which lies 20 kilometres to the south of Meerut is enveloped in gloom on Dussehra. Kitchen stoves are not lit while people prefer to stay at home and don’t communicate with others signifying mourning in memory of those who were hanged during the First War of Indian Independence in 1857.

In his post blogger Harsh Wardhan Jog mentions that people of Lisari, Muradnagar and Nurnagar, Gagol village had actively taken part in the 1857 War. Under the leadership of Jhanda Singh they destroyed an English camp near the village.

The British decided to counterattack and took help of Kotwal Bishan Singh of Meerut City who in turn informed the villagers about the imminent attack while deliberately delaying the English. The residents managed to escape. The villages were destroyed and Singh had to flee. He was later killed by British.

The British attacked again and this time arrested nine people on charges of revolt. They were tried and sentenced to death. On Dussehra day, 1857 they were hanged. According to Jog whose has posted names of eight they were Ram Sahai, Ghasita Singh, Raman Singh, Harjas Singh, Himmat Singh, Kadhera Singh, Shibba Singh Bairam and Darba Singh.

Tombs were built in the memory of these nine under the peepal tree on which they were hung. Every year people pay their respects to them. Since then, Dussehra is not celebrated and this tradition dates back to more than 160 years now and still continues.

As per Jog, the only exception to this ritual is when a child is born on Dussehra day. Then the festival is celebrated.