National Sports Day: On 29 August India Celebrates its 'Rashtriya Khel Diwas'

National Sports Day
National Sports Day is celebrated in India on August 29. Photo: KIYG

The ‘Rashtriya Khel Diwas‘ or The National Sports Day is celebrated in India on 29 August to create awareness and ask people to take part in sports. On this day, the President presents the Dhronacharya award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, and Arjuna Award at the iconic Rashtrapati Bhawan to honor athletes and their coaches for their performances.


Why do we celebrate National Sports Day?

To commemorate the birth anniversary of legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand, the Star of the Indian hockey team that dominated the sport in the years before World War II, Dhyan Singh played an important role in helping India complete their first hat-trick of Olympic gold medals with wins at the 19281932 and 1936 Summer Olympics.

Various sporting events and seminars take place throughout the nation, aiming to spread awareness about the importance of physical activities and sports in life.

The government has also used this day as a platform to launch various sports schemes, including the ‘Khelo India‘ movement, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.


Who is Dhyan Chand?

Born in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh on August 29, 1905, as Dhyan Singh, he rose to prominence in the pre-independence period.

He started his hockey career with the regimental team of the British Indian Army, a young Dhyan Singh was a special talent. Dhyan Singh was a special talent But what made him stand out was his dedication to his craft.

With most of the day spent in regimental duties, Dhyan Singh would practice his hockey in the night under the moonlight. That is what earned him the name Dhyan Chand (Chand means moon in Hindi). He was special and his dedication made him stand out.

As he rose through the ranks in the coming years, helping his teams with the various inter-Army matches, was soon called up for the Indian hockey team for the 1928 Olympics.

And from there, was no looking back as Dhyan Chand went on to rule the world of hockey with his delightful stick work and understanding of the game that earned him the moniker of ‘Hockey Wizard’ and ‘The Magician’. He represented India in 185 matches and scored over 400 goals during his career period(1926 – 1948).

He retired as a Major in the Punjab Regiment of the Indian Army in 1956, the Indian government went on to confer the Padma Bhushan – third-highest civilian award – the same year. 

Dhyan Chand


The National Sports Day is also an occasion where the National Sports Awards honors its sporting heroes with recognitions like the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award, Dhyan Chand Award, and the Dronacharya Award. At a special ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

  • The highest sporting honor, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, is reserved for the outstanding performer, usually handed out to the Olympic medallist in an Olympic year.
  • The Dronacharya Award is conferred on the best coaches in the country, including foreign coaches who have contributed to the development of the sport in India.
  • Dhyan Chand Award recognizes the lifetime contribution of an athlete in his field.
  • Constituted in 1991, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna was first awarded to India’s first-ever Grand Master and a five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand.
  • The Arjuna Award is the oldest among all with the first award being handed out in 1961, while the Dronacharya Award came into being in 1985.

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