It is on 17th June 1858 that Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi sacrificed herself on the battle field of Gwalior fighting against the British during the First War of independence. She was only 23 years at the time of her death.
Born on 19th November 1835 to a Maharashtrian warrior, she was brought up by her father since her mother died when Manikarnika (original name of Lakshmi Bai) was only four. She was given the name Lakshmi Bai after her marriage to the Raja of Jhansi in 1842. Their son born in 1851 died in 1853 followed by the death of Raja also. Before his death, the Raja adopted child Damodar Rao, but the British rulers did not accept the adoption and annexed the kingdom to the British empire. Rani was given a pension of Rs.60,000 and dethroned.
The eruption of the First War of Independence ( 1857-58) was utilised by the Rani to recapture the Jhansi Fort and restore the kingdom. But however the large military force under the British Major Ross attacked the fort and she had to flee when her force could not stop the superior British force from taking over the fort. Along with Tantya Tope, another great warrior, they took over the Gwalior fort and continued the struggle. Her early training in martial arts, horse riding, sword fighting etc. took her in good stead in her fighting with British. It is told that she fought with swords in both hands riding on the horse with the reins held by teeth and her small adopted son in the back of the horse. She was mortally wounded in the battlefield and as per wish was given funeral there itself. Thus ended the young life of the valiant fighter and leader of the First War of Independence.
Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi is remembered for her valour, fight for the country and patriotism. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose named the Women Regiment of Azad Fauj as Rani Lakshmi Bai Regiment in memory of the Rani.
On her day of sacrifice for the country, all of us pay homage to the memory of Rani Lakshi Bai of Jhansi!