National Sports Day

Observed annually on August 29th in India, National Sports Day celebrates and honors the birthday of Dhyan Chand, a field hockey player who is considered by many to be the best of all time. Also known as Rashtriya Khel Divas or National Sports Day of India, this holiday is very popular in India, especially during the Summer Olympic Games.

History of National Sports Day

Dhyan Singh was born to mother Sharadha Singh and father Sameshwar Singh on August 29, 1905, in Allahabad, Kushwaha. His father served in the British Indian Army and played field hockey in his spare time, which is probably where Dhyan Chand got his talent. As a young boy, he didn’t have an inclination towards hockey, but that changed when he joined the British Indian Army at the age of 16.
Once there, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and practice the sport. He would wait for the moon to come out to practice, as there were no electric floodlights at the time. This prompted his teammates to give him the nickname “Chand,” which means moon. That is how he became known as Dhyan Chand.
From 1922 to 1926, he played numerous hockey tournaments for the army and was eventually selected for the Indian Army Team that toured New Zealand. This team lost only one game and went on to have a record of 18 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss. Upon his return to India, he was immediately promoted to the rank of Lance Naik, the equivalent of lance corporal. In 1925, an Inter-Provincial Tournament was held to select the country’s team for the 1928 Olympics.
Five teams participated: Punjab, Bengal, Rajputana, Central Provinces, and United Provinces. Dhyan Chand was selected to play for the United Provinces and was given permission to participate by the British Indian Army. During the first game, he played as a center, a position which required good chemistry with his wingers. Chand helped lead his team to three gold medals: one in 1928, one in 1932, and one in 1936. From 1926 to 1948, Chand scored over 400 goals.

National Sports Day Customs & Traditions

On this holiday, the President of India often gives out sports awards. Some of these awards include the Dronacharya Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, and the Arjuna Award. People gather around one of the Dhyan Chand statues across India and place flowers on them.
However, some of the most intense celebrations occur every four years during the Summer Olympics. This is when friends and families not only gather to remember the greatest field hockey player of all time but also to root for their favorite athletes.

Where is it celebrated?
India (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
August 29 Thursday
Next year (2025)
August 29 Friday
Last year (2023)
August 29 Tuesday