What is Maharashtra Day: A 10-point guide to the holiday and celebrations

It is not just Maharashtra Day, it also happens to be Gujarat Day.

What is Maharashtra Day: A 10-point guide to the holiday and celebrations

One of India's largest states - in terms of size, population and economy - is set to celebrate its foundation day today. Maharashtra Diwas, or Maharashtra Day, is a state holiday across the massive western Indian state. It will see celebrations across the state, with the traditional address in Mumbai's Shivaji Park by the Governor.

Given their shared post-Independence history, it is also Gujarat Foundation Day.

Here is a 10-point guide to what is Maharashtra Day:

1.     Maharashtra Day marks the foundation of the state of the Maharashtra. It was caused by the bifurcation of the Bombay State into the present states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
2.     The Bombay State of post-Independence India was largely coastal and had included Marathi and Gujarati-speaking regions. It had been expanded with the addition of Saurashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada under the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, which reorganised India's existing states and princely states on the lines of language. The new Bombay State, which was today's Maharashtra and Gujarat combined, came into existence on November 1, 1956.
3.     The reorganisation of 1956 led to the rise of two movements - Samyukta Maharashtra Movement and Mahagujarat Movement. These movements demanded the break-up of the new Bombay State into one Marathi-speaking state and one Gujarati-speaking state. These movements laid the base for what we know today as the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
4.     Both states officially came into existence on May 1, 1960 as a result of the Bombay Reorganisation Act of 1960. So, it is not just Maharashtra Day, but also celebrated as Gujarat Day in Gujarat.
5.     The Maharashtra government celebrates it, usually with the Governor addressing a rally at the famed Shivaji Maidan in Mumbai. The state government also usually announces a number of schemes and programmes on this day.
6.     While both the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement and the Mahagujarat Movement had goals that were mutually complementary, and eventually successful, elements within them ended up clashing over which of the new states would get the financial powerhouse of Bombay.
7.     Bombay's population was a majority of Marathi speakers. But the economic elite of the city was loaded with Gujaratis and the Parsis, who were closer in history and alignment with the Gujaratis than with the Marathis. This became known unofficially as the 'Battle of Bombay'.
8.     The elite in Bombay feared that a Maharashtra government based in Bombay would end up hurting their economic status by focusing more on the vast rural area under its control rather than be concerned about the urban needs of the metropolis. Some voices even proposed that because of these concerns, Bombay should be an independent city or even a Union Territory.
9.     However, Bombay ended up being handed over to Maharashtra. This caused a large part of the city's Gujarati elite to shift base to the new state of Gujarat, in fear of the backlash from the Marathi chauvinists who had come together for the creation of the state of Maharashtra.
10.    Maharashtra Day, more than anything else, is a victory celebration for a Marathi political movement based on language. The vociferous mobilisation of the late 1950s and early 1960s has left a lasting impact on the politics of the state, laying the ground for the formation of Marathi and Maratha chauvinist parties like the Shiv Sena, and subsequently the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).