May Day in Dhaka


Bangladesh garment workers call for their rights on May Day 2011, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph copyright Chulie De Silva

I finally moved out of my comfort zone and ventured out among the waves of striding crowds at Purano Paltan and Muktangon in Dhaka. It was hot and dusty, but the atmosphere was amazing.  They came in waves — decked in red sarees, salwars, kurtas. sarongs, jeans, bright red T-shirts, red bandanas on their heads,  carrying red flags and banners.

Government and Opposition parties took to the streets with huge banners. Photograph copyright Chulie de Silva

And the bands played on at May Day, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photograph Copyright Chulie de Silva

Dhaka’s own paprara bands, floats, loud speakers on rickshaws, provided the background music while the ubiquitous street sellers did quick business, selling cool water, tea and coffee from side stalls, raw mangoes (I think with a salty pickle like sauce), cut pineapple and even whole cucumbers to munch as you marched stridently.

Cool cucumbers for hot workers, Dhaka, Bangaldesh. Photograph copyright Chulie De Silva

Many Bangladesh workers out in full force on rallies in Dhaka today might not know that roots of May Day was in Chicago or about the uprising and the prolonged fight for an 8 hour day. Most probably work on average much longer than an 8 hr day in poorly paid jobs. But the spirit that launched the worldwide International Solidarity Day for the workers was very much alive and kicking here.

Full of vigour he pranced around like a red imp. The future is theirs and I do hope it will be a better one for him and many others. Photograph copyright Chulie de Silva.

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6 thoughts on “May Day in Dhaka

  1. Such an array of colorful clothing, uniforms, flags, musical instruments. I feel as though I was there too. Such crowds make it difficult but you managed, Chuli, to miss not a thing. Can almost hear the slogans and taste the mango. Always enjoy your “outings.”

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