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Begetting children is considered as one of the greatest blessings of life. It is even regarded as the principal purpose of marriage and family life. While individuals regard their children as precious gifts, who will carry forward the lineage and family traditions, there is a much larger significance too, for them. Children are considered as the hope for the days to come and it is on their fragile shoulders that the future of the society and the country rests. Children’s Day is an occasion that celebrates children. It acknowledges their value and recognizes their significance as the torchbearers for a bright and promising future.
There is a practice in the world of earmarking a day of the year for honouring those who play important roles in the lives of the people. We thus have the Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Siblings Day, Grandparents Day etc. for showing respect to these family members. Children’s Day occupies a pride of place among these special occasions.
The history about the origin and development of the day is interesting. The observance of Children’s Day as a formal occasion started from the second Sunday of June in 1856 by Dr Charles Leonard, the priest of the church in Massachusetts, America, when he held a prayer service dedicated for the children. The day was first called as the Rose day, then, as Flower Sunday and ultimately, as the Children’s Day. However, it was Turkey who first declared the day as the national holiday in 1929, setting the date for its observance as 23rd April. The day underwent further changes elsewhere in the world. An organization called Women’s International Democratic Federation set forth in the year 1949, The International Day for Protection of Children as the Children’s Day, to be held on 1st of June and this began to be observed by many countries since 1950. Thus, while many countries joined in the observance of Children’s Day, different countries began celebrating it on different dates.
However, subsequently, United Nations recommended that Children’s Day be observed on the 20th of November and quite a few countries began following this day too. It was United Kingdom which declared in 1954 that Universal Children’s Day will be celebrated every year on 20th of November and started observing it for promoting understanding among world children and for initiating action for their welfare. Later on the same date in 1959, the UN adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and then in 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children’s Day began developing gradually into a global movement as it started addressing the various issues that were of concern to the children at large, like poverty, violence, abuse, exploitation, child labour, discrimination, disabilities etc.
Children’s Day holds a special significance for India. Here, it is the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of our country and the architect of modern India, that is celebrated as Children’s Day. He loved children with all his heart and hence, 14th November, his day of birth is observed as Bal Divas, the Children’s Day here.
Children’s day is celebrated with immense enthusiasm in India, when various programmes are held for the children both by the Government and other organizations. Cultural and educative activities are also conducted involving children, and plays are staged, competitions are held, gifts are distributed and picnics are organized for them. Parents too participate on this joyous occasion and enjoy themselves along with children.