Bangalore knows how to observe its holidays. Many offices and schools remained closed on Monday, on account of Kannada Rajyotsava.
However, many Bangaloreans that this reporter quizzed about the significance of the day admitted that they did not know why Monday was a holiday.
The city is home to a large migrant population. As the state government made elaborate preparations to observe the Rajyotsava or Karnataka Formation Day (literally ‘Birth of the Kannada State’) on Monday, many Bangaloreans, somewhat abashed, expressed their ignorance of the importance of the day.
Mysore state was formed on November 1, 1956, merging the Kannada-speaking regions of Bombay and Madras presidencies and the principality of Hyderabad, with the princely Mysore state, based on the recommendations of the States Reorganisation Commission. November 1 each year has since been observed as Kannada Rajyotsava.
In 1973, after prolonged debate, the then chief minister Devraj Urs took a decision to change the name of the state to Karnataka.
“Monday is a holiday. My school is closed,” said Samar Misra, a student of class X, at a prominent city school. But when asked why Monday was a holiday, the teenage boy stared back, vacantly. “Something… Ah! Some celebration, I’m not sure,” admitted Misra, blushing at his ignorance.
Pretty Singh, an engineering student, was in the same boat. “Yes, my college is closed today. I don’t know why. I am planning to go Deepavali shopping,” said Singh.
Prodded about the recent turbulence in the state’s politics, these youth showed their indifference.
“I have no clue about the problems faced by the ruling party. I prefer to stay away from politics. I’m not in the least bit interested,” said Pratap Singh, a student of engineering, unfazed.
Although a good number of the young people this reporter randomly selected for questioning appeared disinterested in state politics and history, there were a few who seemed to be following all the news from the state with special care, even if also with some degree of revulsion.
“I am tired of frequent political crises in the state. Every other day, the opposition parties, Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), attempt to topple the BJP government. I have been in Bangalore for three years, and the state is as good as home to me now. I want a government that is stable,” said Sandhya Saikia, a graduate student of business administration.
School authorities that this reporter contacted also said that it was important that students learnt about the history, culture and geography of the state.
“This month is going to be observed very specially in the school. On Monday, we held a flag hoisting programme in the morning, and there were no classes. On Tuesday, a cultural programme will be arranged, and the different genres of dance of the state will be performed. The entire month will be used to showcase the rich culture, history and literature of Karnataka. That way students will learn about the various facets of the state,” said Manju Sharma, principal, Delhi Public School Bangalore (South).
Malls too were decorated to celebrate Rajyotsava. Folk art forms like Dollu Kunitha and Veeragase were performed in their precincts.
“We are proud to be Kannadigas, and we will be inviting artistes to perform so that those who visit the mall would leave with a greater appreciation of the greatness of Karnataka,” said an official at a mall near MG Road.