Arrival of Indentured Labourers in Mauritius in 2024

Arrival of Indentured Labourers in Mauritius in 2024
Portraits of Indentured Labourers, Aapravasi Ghat, Mauritius. Image by Suyash Dwivedi
  How long until Arrival of Indentured Labourers?
Arrival of Indentured Labourers
  Dates of Arrival of Indentured Labourers in Mauritius
2025 Mauritius Sun, Nov 2 National Holiday
2024 Mauritius Sat, Nov 2 National Holiday
2023 Mauritius Thu, Nov 2 National Holiday
2022 Mauritius Wed, Nov 2 National Holiday
2021 Mauritius Tue, Nov 2 National Holiday

Commemorates the arrival of Indian labourers on November 2nd 1834, an event that would forever change the cultural identity of Mauritius.

When is the Arrival of Indentured Labourers?

The Arrival of Indentured Labourers is a national holiday in the Republic of Mauritius on November 2nd each year.

This holiday commemorates the arrival of the first indentured workers to the Indian Ocean island nation on this day in 1834.

The Arrival of Indentured Labourers

The use of slaves on Mauritius was widespread. It began when the French took control of the island and established sugar cane plantations, which needed a large workforce of slaves.

By the time the British took control of the island in 1810, slaves accounted for around 80% of the island’s population with most from Madagascar and East Africa.

In February 1835, slavery was abolished in Mauritius. This instantly created a demand for replacement labour on the plantations.

The solution was to use indentured workers. Effectively indentured workers would work as slaves, but only for the term of their contract, after which they would be freed. This process started in Mauritius and was expanded to other parts of the British Empire.

Between 1834 and 1920, half-a-million indentured immigrants (labourers and their families) arrived on Mauritius, with 97% of the immigrants coming from India. The first labourers, called coolies, arrived from Calcutta (Kolkata) on November 2nd 1834.

A commission to look at the practice of indenture first took place in 1872, though it was 1924 before the practice was abolished.

Apravasi Ghat

In 1849 an immigration depot was built at Trou Fanfaron, Port Louis, where the coolies lived for two days before heading out to the sugar estates. It was listed as a national monument and renamed to Apravasi Ghat in 1989. 

In 2006, the depot, seen as a symbol of human endurance, was included in Unesco’s list of world heritage sites.

The need to disclose ethnic identity was dropped from the census in 1982, so there are no official figures, but over 60% of Mauritians have ancestors from the Indian subcontinent.

This holiday on the anniversary of that first arrival in 1834 celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Indian population and their contribution to Mauritian society.

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

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