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What is Komagata Maru incidence?

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By Shruti Pandey

Komagata Maru

Komagata Maru word created a buzz this week.

This week, an assurance came from the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after 102 years of an incident for which he proposed to offer an apology to the victims of Komagata Maru in the House of Commons. He was in the capital city Ottawa on Monday (April 11,2016), for the Baisakhi celebration, and he made an announcement in this regard.

“It was in the House of Commons that the law that prevented the passengers from disembarking was first passed and so it is fitting that the government should apologize there on behalf of all Canadians,” Trudeau said. “That is why next month, on May 18th, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident.”

Calling on reminiscence, he enunciated “We mark the 102nd anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident where 376 passengers, mostly of whom were Sikh dissents arrived in Vancouver and were refused to stay in Canada due to the discriminatory laws of that time. The Komagata Maru’s passengers were seeking refuge and better lives, like millions of immigrants to Canada since. With so much to contribute to their new home, they chose Canada. And we failed them utterly.”

Let’s look at the incidence.

What was Komagata Maru?

A ship that was launched by Charles Connell and Company of Scotstoun on 13 August 1890. She was subsequently acquired by the Shinyei Kisen Goshi Kaisha Company in 1913. The company was owned by four or five individuals who possessed one other ship. She was renamed the Komagata Maru. The following year, she surpassed an incident an Vancouver, Canada that came to be known as “Komagata Maru incident”. In 1924, the ship was renamed Heian Maru. She was wrecked on Cape Soyidmar(Japanese:-{添泊岬}-), Hokkaidō, Japan on 11 February 1926.

When and what happened?

 The ship took off with 376 passengers from Hong Kong and arrived at Vancouver Harbour on May 23, 1914, and the people onboard- 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus were all denied for an entry.

Amidst the 376 passengers, 24 British subjects, who hailed from Punjab, were admitted to Canada and the remaining were made to stand on the harbour for two long maonths. After two months of stand-off, they were sent back. Komagata Maru eventually arrived at the Baj Baj Ghat near Calcutta, where about 19 people were killed following an altercation with British soldiers for being members of the Ghadar party. Rests of them were put in jail.

Why was the discrimination done?

An order was passed in 1908 that required all Asiatic migrants to pay 200 dollars each as the immigration fee. Following the order, another immigration act was passed in 1910 that allowed the immigrants to enter Canada only via a continuous journey with no halts in between. Gurdit singh chartered the Japanese ship that sailed on May 23, 1914. The payment of 200 dollars was not done as the passengers on board argued that they belonged to a British colony. Some skirmishes involved ill treatment of Vanocouver cops are they tried to escort out the passengers. The ship was finally sailed back to India.

The gallantry act of the Prime Minister is appreciable. Although it cannot reimburse the lost lives but it surely relieves the grief of Sikhs who form a significant portion of Canadian population.

Shruti Pandey is studying  B.tech. from HBTI, kanpur. An ardent fan of football, Indian culture and history and aspires to color the world with words. Twitter: @srt_kaka

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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