Bir Chilarai Divas is celebrated in Assam every year on the first full moon of "Magh." In 2005, the Government of Assam declared the Bir Chilari Divas a public holiday to commemorate the great historical figure of Assam. Bir Chilarai was a legendary general of Assam's Koch Royal Dynasty. He was instrumental in expanding his elder brother, Maharaja Nara Narayan's, vast empire. Since 2005, the Assam government has bestowed the Bir Chilarai Award, the highest honor for bravery, on deserving individuals. Bir Chilarai's valiant efforts during Maharaja Nara Narayan's reign will always be remembered and continue to serve as inspiration.
Bir Chilarai (1510-1571 AD) was a great general of the Koch royal dynasty of Assam. Following the fall of the Khen dynasty in 1498 AD, the Koch dynasty established their kingdom in the western part of Assam, and Chandan was crowned king of the Kamata kingdom. Maharaja Chandan ruled for thirteen years, but because he had no sons. Due to this, Viswa Singha ascended to the throne after his death.
Maharaja Viswa Singha was the founding monarch of the Koch royal dynasty, which had just begun to establish its kingdom in 1515 AD, and his reign was a glorious period in the history of Assam. Even though he had many sons, only four of them stood out. His third son was Shukladhwaj, who later went by the name of Bir Chilarai.
Shukladhwaj was given that name because he was born on a full moon day and had a fair complexion. He and his brothers learned warfare, which they all mastered very well. He traveled to Varanasi with his older brother Malla Dev to pursue higher education. They picked up knowledge in a variety of subjects, including grammar, literature, law, astrology, and Sanskrit.
Maharaja Viswa Singha died, and his son Malla Dev succeeded him as king. His more popular name was Maharaja Nara Narayan. Shukladhwaj served as the army's commander and helped his brother expand the kingdom. He was famous for his swiftness and sharp wit. He earned the name "Chilarai" because he was as swift as the bird chila, or the kite, in capturing his enemies.
An intense battle erupted in 1562 AD when Nara Narayan crossed the Brahmaputra River and attacked the Ahom kingdom. Chilarai directed his troops to fight both on land and in the water. The defeated king eventually fled with his army, and Nara Narayan was victorious. Later, a truce followed between them.
Another battle erupted in 1568 AD when Nara Narayan attacked Gour, which was ruled by Soleman Karnani. But this time he was defeated when the army commander, Kalapahar, captured Chilarai. While traveling to Tezpur, Kalapahar and his soldiers destroyed many temples, including Kamakhya.
Nara Narayan defeated the king of Cachar and took control of his kingdom. The king of Manipur surrendered because he did not want to fight such a powerful ruler. Chilarai then launched an assault on the states of Jayantia, Tripura, and Sylhet. He defeated the kings in the battles and killed them. Seeing the state of the neighboring states, the rulers of Khairam and Dimoriya submitted their petty states. As a result of Chilarai's heroism, Maharaja Nara Narayan expanded his vast empire and earned revenues from several rulers.
When Akbar, the Mughal emperor, sought his assistance, Nara Narayan attacked Gour for the second time. While invading Gour, they formed an alliance with Sisya Singha Raikat and Debraj, King of Bhutan. Chilarai conquered Ghoraghat and the entire Gour region. Following the defeat of King Gourpasha, the kingdom was divided between Nara Narayan and Akbar.
Chilarai died on the banks of the Ganga while suffering from pox during Gour's second invasion. Battles ceased after his death. Chilarai's valiant actions propelled the Koch kingdom to its pinnacle. Nara Narayan later partitioned his kingdom into Koch Bihar and Koch Hajo. He kept Koch Bihar, the western part, under his control, while Koch Hajo, the eastern part, was given to Raghudev, Chilarai's son.