Bengal : Swadeshi Movement

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Hindu Revival | Partition | Swadeshi | Self Reliance | Patriotic Literature | Extremists & Moderates | Split in Congress | Nationalism 

Surendra Nath BanerjeaThe formal proclamation of the Swadeshi Movement was, made on the 7th August 1905, in a meeting held at the Calcutta town hall. Even Moderate leaders like Surendranath Banerjea toured the country urging the boycott of Manchester Cloth and Liverpool Salt.

On September 1, the Government announced that partition was to be effected on 16 October 1905. The following weeks saw protest meetings being held almost everyday in Bengal; some of these meetings, like the one in Barisal, drew crowds of ten to twelve thousand. That the message of boycott went home is evident from the fact that the value of British cloth sold in some of the mofussil districts fell by five to fifteen times between September 1904 and September 1905.

The day partition took effect - 16th October 1905 - was declared a day of mourning throughout Bengal. People fasted and no fires were lit at the cooking hearth. In Calcutta a strike was called. People took out processions and band after band walked barefoot, bathed in the Ganges in the morning and then paraded the streets singing Vande Mataram which almost spontaneously, became the theme song of the movement.

People tied Rakhis on each other's hands as a symbol of the unity of the two halves of Bengal. Later in the day Anandmohan Bose and Surendranath Banerjea addressed two huge meetings which drew crowds of 50,000 to 75,000 people. These were, perhaps, the largest mass meetings ever to be held under the nationalist banner this far. Within few hours of the meetings, a sum of Rs. 50,000 was raised for the movement.

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