Dr. Gitartha Roymedhi
This is really interesting to know that when the world celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, the same day is observed as Babur's Day in one nation. I can remember once about 12 years back in Simferopol International Airport, I came across a middle aged Uzbek man travelling to Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan. While in the queue for the security checking, he asked me about my nationality. He said that he is from a rural part of Uzbekistan and his son works as a hired worker in a farm in Simferopol. He was there to visit his son. As I said that I am Indian and travelling to Delhi via Tashkent, he claimed that the Red Fort and Taj Mahal were built by them. When I asked how, he replied that Babur was from his country.
There is no second opinion about Babur and the Mughal Dynasty. Babur was born in the city of Andijan in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan. This means that Babur who was born on 14th February 1483 as Zahir Uddin Muhammad was Uzbek by birth. He had invaded India as like the other foreign invaders to establish his empire in the subcontinent. He was attracted by the fertile lands and treasury of India. He was invited by Daulat Khan Lodi, a rebel of the Lodi Empire (Afghans by origin) to invade India in 1524. Daulat Khan Lodi thought Babur would just overthrow Ibrahim and return back but Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the first Battle of Panipat in 1526 and formed Mughal Empire that had ruled over the Indian Subcontinent till 1857.
14th February is not celebrated as the Valentine’s Day in Uzbekistan because for them it is an Align Festival. To keep the youths and new generations away from this migrated festival, the day is celebrated as “Babur’s Day”. But why is Babur important to Uzbekistan? Is it only because he was born Uzbek? 14th February which is called as the “Day of Love” is celebrated in Uzbekistan to pay respect to the founder of Mughal Empire in India who is considered as a National Hero in Uzbekistan. As received information from various webpages Babur’s home is now a museum. There are parks and monuments in Uzbekistan dedicated to him.
History says that Babur didn't have an easy time in his homeland. Although Babar was a descendent of Timur, the famous Mongol invader known for cruelties and atrocities he was born to a father who was ruler of a small principality of Fergana. Timur, the ruler of Samarkand in Uzbekistan reached Delhi with relative ease in 1398. As like in Baghdad and Damascus, Timur sacked Delhi with brutal ferocity. Like Babur, Timur is also viewed as a hero in Uzbekistan. Babur had to struggle hard to gain a toehold in his homeland. After the Battle of Ghazdewan, Babur and his forces retreated to Kabul, the capital city of modern Afghanistan by Khanate of Bukhara. It was in Kabul where Babur gained recognition and ruled Kabul for more than a decade. He loved his time in Kabul and after he died, his body was buried in the city. Babur loved Kabul due to its cool climate that reminded him of his hometown Fergana and its cultural richness related to Samarkand. The historic park named Garden of Babur or Bagh e Babur in Kabul is the final resting place of the founder of Mughal Empire in Indian subcontinent. Babur is seen as a hero by many Afghans too. Many Afghans come to Babur's tomb in summer months for Ziyar considering him to be a saint.
Babur could never go back to his land of birth. Instead, he came to India as an invader, where the empire he founded had successfully conquered the subcontinent and ruled over it for a long time. He died in India and is buried in Kabul. He was forced to quit his homeland and retreat to Kabul. But for the Uzbeks he is a National Hero and his birthday 14th February is celebrated as his day. It may be because he was an emperor of a vast country like India but for Indians he will remain as an Invader.
Through a few sources it is known that the Uzbeks even have an organization – the Babur International Foundation, expressly devoted to the study of Babur’s history. 14th February every year that marks the birth anniversary of the 16th century Mughal Emperor Babur is a National Day in Uzbekistan and events are organized that are attended by creative people, artists, actors, athletes, politicians etc. For us the one whose was a foreign invader is a National Icon in Uzbekistan. For his lovers and admirers, he must be a great poet, preacher, thinker and explorer.
Dr. Gitartha Roymedhi is the Chief Operating Officer, North East Cancer Hospital & Research Institute, Guwahati, Assam [Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in our Blog are those of the author(s) / poet(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Publisher.]