Saturday, May 1, 2010

first may - the labour day

the 1st may is observed the labour day or the international workers day through out the world. the general perception is that it is mostly commemorated in the communist/socialist or developing countries. but it is not the case.

the may day had its roots in Chicago (usa). the federation of organised trade unions started a labour movement in 1884. it gave a strike call on 1st may, 1886 for having 8 hours work schedule. the idea, as the story goes, was to divide the 24 hours in three equal slots - 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours for sleep. you may be aware that 8 hour work is the standard by now in most of the countries. in due course, it became an international phenomenon and a labour movement. it was decided in 1889 to declare 1st of may as the labour day and 1st may 1890 was commemorated as such for the first time.

the labour day is observed in india, generally under the banner of labour unions on the 1st may. there is yet another important day 'vishwakarma puja' in india which is dedicated to lord vishwa karma, the divine architect of the universe, according to hindu mythology. the labour force worships vishwa karma, on this day, and pray for a better future, safe working conditions and success. dr. b.r. ambedkar recognised the needs of the labour class under the aegis of the independent labour party, he established in 1936. later, dr. ambedkar was made the labour member of the viceroy's executive council from 1942-45. he was instrumental in bringing several labour reforms including establishment of employment exchanges.

before coming to belarus, i was the consul general of india to scotland. the 1st of my has special significance in the history of scotland. on 1st may, 1707, the 'act of union' was signed between england and scotland to form the 'kingdom of the great britain. the day is celebrated in saint andrews (scotland), young people gather on a beach late in the night of april 30 and run into the north sea on the 1st may, mostly naked. in edinburgh, the beltane fire festival is held on the 1st may eve at the calton hill.

the may day in minsk was a normal and quite day. there was a function in the gorky park, one of the oldest parks of minsk but a low key affair. i was told that it used to be a big day of celebrations in the soviet time before 1991. the clock of history goes on ticking. the important becomes ordinary and nothing becomes something. it is life.


  1. The complete writing is full of factual information. May I add another important fact about 1st May.

    On this day “Maharashtra Day” is celebrated in Maharashtra because on 1st May 1960, Maharashtra got statehood after the Bombay state was divided into two states, Maharashtra and Gujarat on the basis of different languages, Marathi and Gujarati. Old capital Bombay was retained in Maharashtra, which has now been renamed as Mumbai.

  2. thanks. there are many important events connected with the may day. i confined myself to the labour day, the mention about scotland was incidental because of my association with edinburgh.