Arrival Day in Guyana in 2025

Arrival Day in Guyana in 2025
Map of Guyana Image via Office Holidays
  How long until Arrival Day?
Arrival Day
  Dates of Arrival Day in Guyana
2025 Guyana Mon, May 5 National Holiday
2024 May 5, May 6
GuyanaMon, May 6National Holiday (in lieu)
GuyanaSun, May 5National Holiday
2023 Guyana Fri, May 5 National Holiday
2022 Guyana Thu, May 5 National Holiday
2021 Guyana Wed, May 5 National Holiday

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.

Originally, this holiday was known as Indian Arrivals Day and celebrated specifically the first indentured labourers from India to Guyana on May 5th, 1838. However, the meaning of the holiday was later broadened to include all ethnic groups that came as indentured servants to replace slave labour on the sugar plantations after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

Arrivals Day is a day when the people of Guyana remember their diverse heritage but also their nation’s motto: ONE PEOPLE, ONE NATION, ONE DESTINY!

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 lalabour-intensiveugar 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.

Many Chinese and other immigrants soon also came to Guyana as indentured servants, but the bulk came from India. 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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