Arrival Day in Guyana in 2020

Arrival Day in Guyana in 2020
Map of Guyana Image via Office Holidays
  How long until Arrival Day?
This holiday next takes place in 289 days.
  Dates of Arrival Day in Guyana
2021Guyana Wed, May 5National Holiday
2020Guyana Tue, May 5National Holiday
2019Guyana Sun, May 5National Holiday
2018Guyana Sat, May 5National Holiday
  Summary
Commemorates the arrival of 396 indentured labourers from India on May 5th 1838

When is Arrival Day?

Arrival Day is a public holiday in the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana, observed on May 5th.

Also known as Indian Arrival Day, this day commemorates the arrival of the first indentured labourers from India on May 5th 1838.

History of Arrival Day

Guyana became a British territory in 1831 when the British took control of the Dutch colonies during the Napoleonic Wars.

On August 1st 1834, slavery was abolished in almost all parts of the British Empire. This caused an issue with the labour intensive sugar plantations having relied on the slaves to provide the necessary workforce. An apprentice scheme to keep the former slaves employed only lasted four years.

To replace the slaves, Britain started a process of using indentured labour. Effectively indentured workers would work as slaves, but only for the term of their contract, after which they would be freed and in many cases, given some land.

The Indian subcontinent proved to be a plentiful source of labourers, looking to escape poverty and forge a new life overseas.

On May 5th 1838, 396 workers arrived in British Guiana (Guyana) from Calcutta, India in order to work in sugar plantations. These first workers were known as the "Gladstone Coolies" as they were brought over by the plantation owner John Gladstone. 

By the time the indentured system ended in 1920, British Guiana had received 238,909 workers from India. Today their descendants comprise 44% of Guyana's population of over 750,000.

This public holiday celebrates the important cultural impact that the arrival of these workers has had on the nation.

Similar public holidays take place in Trinidad & Tobago and Mauritius. In Grenada, a holiday is observed on May 1st, the same date as International Workers' Day.

Though it's not a public holiday, May 3rd is known as Portuguese Arrival Day, recognising the presence of another group of people who arrived as indentured servants.

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