Remembering Goa Liberation Day, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday extended out his greetings to Goans on this memorable day. The ailing Chief Minsiter said in a tweet, “On this memorable day, let us recall the valiant efforts of our freedom fighters who fought against oppression, and the remarkable role played by the Indian Army in liberating Goa from Portuguese rule. On this day, let us resolve, rededicate ourselves and united to keep our state clean and tidy, and to achieve progress and development in all spheres.”

On the eve of Goa Liberation Day, Governor Mridula Sinha also took a moment out to recall this historic day. “Though Goan society had to face communal upheaval in the wake of Portuguese colonial policies, today Goa enjoys peace despite communal diversity… This demonstrates that strong religious identities and communal harmony can co-exist,” Sinha said in her address to the state.

For the unversed, Goa was a Portuguese colony for 451 years, until the Indian armed forces liberated the coastal state from colonial yoke on December 19, 1961.

Here is Why we Celebrate Goa Liberation Day:

The first fight for Goa’s liberation from the Portuguese started on 18 June 1946 by freedom fighter Ram Manohar Lohia but it took 14 long years for the Portuguese to leave Goa. Yes, India got its independence on 15 August 1947 but Goa got on 19 December 1961. Finally, the 450 years of rule of Portuguese came to an end. And every year the nation celebrates Goa liberation day annually and various events are conducted across the state.

Portuguese were the first ones to colonize parts of India and were the last to leave. The Portuguese invaded Goa in the year 1510 and subjected Goans to most extreme torture. From 1540, the bloodiest period of the invasion started off. Many Hindu temples were destroyed and prohibitions were levied on Hindu marriage rituals as well. Many converted to Christianity to get an exemption from taxes. Under the dictatorship of Antonio Salazar situation got worst. In his rule, people were denied basic rights as well. During 1946, when India was inching towards independence, Ram Manohar Lohia got involved in the movement to free the state.

Operation Vijay began on December 17, 1961, when the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru ordered the invasion. With a force of almost 30,000, the Indian attack overpowered the ill-prepared Portuguese 3,000 member army. With minimal blood shed, the attack was successful and was carried forward to retrieve the other Portuguese-controlled areas, Daman and Diu. At this point on December 18, the Portuguese Governor General Vassalo da Silva gave up control of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu. Three days after the attack began, Goa finally became a part of India.

The people of Goa celebrate this momentous day with great excitement. A torchlight procession takes off from three different locations, coming together at Azad Maidan where people pay tribute to the martyrs who lost their lives while fighting for the liberation of the state. Post this, the celebrations take off with cultural events all around the state. From traditional dances by school girls to fairs, the celebrations don’t end until late evening.