Besides being International Labour Day, May 1 is also celebrated as Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day. The date holds special significance for both states — it was 58 years ago that the existing states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were formed, hence the celebrations. Extending the celebrations on-air this year, EPIC invites viewers on a journey that includes lesser-known stories from the regions. The day-long showcase on May 1, from 12 noon to 7 pm.
How the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were formed
The States Reorganisation Act, 1956, defined boundaries for states within India on the basis of languages. The Bombay State formed under this act had people speaking various languages like Marathi, Gujarati, Kutchi and Konkani. But having two linguistic units in one state didn’t seem to work.
The Sanyukta Maharashtra Samiti was at the forefront of the movement to divide the Bombay State into two states — one where people primarily spoke Gujarati and Kutchhi and the other where people primarily spoke Marathi and Konkani. Simultaneously, in Gujarat, this demand for separate states was spearheaded by the Mahagujarat Movement. The term Mahagujarat had been coined before Independence and had then included the Sindh region, which had gone to Pakistan during Partition.
While both the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement and the Mahagujarat Movement had the same mission, certain elements ended up clashing over which of the new states would get India’s financial capital Bombay, which ended up being part of Maharashtra.
The states of Maharashtra and Gujarat thus came into existence according to the Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960 enacted by Parliament on April 25, 1960. The act came into effect on May 1, 1960. Under the Bombay Reorganisation Act, Maharashtra and Gujarat were divided and both states attained statehood.
Although additional changes to India’s state boundaries have been made since 1956, the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 remains the single most extensive change in state boundaries since the country’s independence in 1947.