May Day as Labour Day
In many countries including India, May Day is also celebrated as Labour Day. The day originates with the US labour movement in the late 19th century. The history of the movement dates back to May 1, 1886. On this day several labour unions across the US went on strike, demanding a standard workday of eight hours. On May 4th there was bloodshed in Chicago's Haymarket Square – A bomb thrown by a revolutionist led to the deaths of a dozen people (including several police officers) and the injury of over 100 people. The protests did not get an immediate outcome, but they proved effective subsequently, as eight-hour work days became the norm in many countries across the globe. This day was hence chosen as a day for demonstrations, parades, and speeches. It is a major state holiday in US, Russia and other communist countries. In India, May Day has also been declared a public holiday.
The first May Day celebration in India was organised in Madras by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923. This was also the first time the red flag was used in India. The party leader Singaravelu made arrangements to celebrate May Day in two places in 1923. One meeting was held at the beach opposite to the Madras High Court; the other meeting was held at the Triplicane beach. The Hindu newspaper, published from Madras reported, The Labour Kisan party has introduced May Day celebrations in Chennai. Comrade Singaravelar presided over the meeting. A resolution was passed stating that the government should declare May Day as a holiday. The president of the party explained the non-violent principles of the party. There was a request for financial aid. It was emphasized that workers of the world must unite to achieve independence. May Day is a nationwide bank holiday in India. The holiday is tied to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, respectively, it is officially called Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day, since it was on this day in 1960 that each attained statehood, after the division of the old Bombay State on linguistic lines.
Labor Day is celebrated on May 1 in many countries around the world and it is still often a day for protests and rallies. On this day, various labour organizations across the country carry out processions and organize competitions for children belonging to labour class.
However, in recent years, the celebration of this day has taken a new turn, where the workers and trade unions demand to safeguard their interests and give the economic reforms a humane face.