NEW DELHI (CU)_Although the Commonwealth Day is celebrated across the 54 member-states on the second Monday in the month of March, however, in India, the event is also celebrated on 24 May. It is Day on which the South Asian nation commemorates the formation of the British Empire in India and all of the other former colonies.
Also known as the Empire Day, the annual event was first launched on 24 May 1902, on the birthday of Queen Victoria, the great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. On this day, many school children across the British Empire celebrated the occasion by saluting the Union Jack and singing patriotic songs such as God Save the Queen. Moreover, children were told inspirational speeches of bravery from across the Empire, including tales about Robert Clive, former British Governor of the Bengal Presidency. It is also said that students were let out of school early so that they could participate in festivals and parades, which included, marches, dances and concerts.
However, following World War II, which led to a decline in British colonies, the United Kingdom’s relationship with Commonwealth nations also changed. As these countries began to celebrate their own idea of nationalism, Empire Day was changed to Commonwealth Day, while the date was also moved to 10 June, in line with the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. Subsequently, in 1977, the Commonwealth Day was once again moved to the second Monday of March, when the Queen sends a special message to Britain’s former colonies every year.
Meanwhile, Canada is the only Commonwealth country to declare 24 May as a public holiday. Known as Victoria Day, several states across Canada to honour the birthday of Queen Victoria with parades and outdoor activities such as firework displays and camping.