01 May 2008

Labour Day

Labour Day is an annual holiday celebrated all over the world that resulted from efforts of the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. The majority of countries celebrate Labour Day on May 1, and it is popularly known as May Day and International Workers' Day.

The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the eight hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.

Today was yet another Labour Day at the Russian Federation. Cities and major towns in every state held events and celebrations for the entire day. Parades were a show of esteem and confidence of the working class.

The morning started off damp and chilly, but everyone in Kursk was ready and charged up for the parade.

Another damp day for a supposingly great morning.

Most large organisations in Kursk sent a contingent, including my university. Russian and foreign international students alike gathered at the university facade with flags of respective homelands before feeding into the march. The KSMU contingent's theme was to show the diversity of races and nationalities of the university.

All geared up – the KSMU contingent ready to march.

Our contingent march started off at the junction of Karl Marx Street and Lenin Street.

After a short stride, I realised that we were the last in line. If I were to move with them, I would miss the parade ahead – so I hurriedly and unconventionally broke off line and headed frontward as the parade moved.

It wasn't moving any faster, the impatient me thought.

Just in front of the KSMU contingent were the contingents of the local police and army from the Kursk barracks, dressed smartly in their training uniform.

Young police cadets and military conscripts.

Much ahead, the parade was more civilian-friendly. People of all age groups and all walks of life moved with the parade; with friends, families and fellow comrades. The mood was generally light and cheerful.

Colourful balloons and banners decorated the street.

Further on was the contingent of the Federation of the Regional Trade Unions; dressed in their working outfit, carrying banners and placards.

"The rise in prices is outstripping the growth of salary!" – Federation of the Regional Trade Unions.

In front of them was the contingent of Putin's own political party – United Russia. Most of its participants were youths – young and beaming with energy. The choice of the younger generation of Russia.

"We trust in Russia, we trust in ourselves!" – United Russia.

Along the sidewalk of the street were bystanders and onlookers, all cheering as the parade passed by.

Nice flags. I wonder where they got them.

The pace and atmosphere of the parade was set by the military brass band which led the contingents to the tune and beat of military march. As always, the pieced played were spirit-lifting and inspiring.

A parade is never complete without the customary brass band.

Leading the parade were the motorcade consisting of locally made cars, the Lada, and light vehicles, as well as the ever-present, ubiquitous and omnipresent propaganda van with hailing loudspeakers echoing encouragement, aspiration and the nation's pride and hopes.

Let the flags wave with pride.

Written on the vehicles were greetings and well-wishes of Labour Day.

"Happy Spring and Labour Day!"

As I have already overtaken the parade, I realised that it was a matter of time before it reached its destination – the Red Square of Kursk. So I made my way there and anticipated its arrival.

Officers, security and the stage at the Red Square.

As the parade approached, photographers, journalists, reporters and newscasters were seen taking positions and linking up.

If I didn't stand so far, I would be on national TV.

All too soon, the motorcade leading the parade crossed the Red Square with splendour, with the statue of Lenin and the House of Soviets at the background.

Old and new: Modern Russian cars bearing flags of the Russian Federation passing the aged statue of Lenin and the House of Soviets.

Soon, rest of the contingents flooded the place.

People power.

As people assembled at the Red Square, speeches were made to congratulate the working class, and concerts were held to the public's delight.

City officials congratulating the working class, speeches and proceedings, and finally a live concert.

As most people began dispersing towards the end of the ceremony to celebrate elsewhere, so did I concluded my photographing and headed back towards my university.

An unexpected twist kept my camera rolling and lens hot again.

It hit me when I suddenly realised that the entire procession was organised by pro-United Russia affiliates. Those who weren't supportive of the local government were left out from the parade. However, that didn't stop them.

Hail the march of the Red contingent.

As compared to United Russia's contingent, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation contingent was composed of senior citizens – the generation that lived through the glory of the once mighty Soviet Union – the dying breed of loyalists of a disappearing legacy.

Nothing stops you on your track more than the sight of the hammer and sickle.

As they arrived at the Red Square, the contingent set up a parameter around the statue of Lenin, and held their vigil as the leader spoke through the loudspeaker, reminding all the true meaning of Labour Day for the working class.

Foreground banner, "Communist Party of the Russian Federation". Background banner, "Socialism – the Salvation of Russia".

And so ended the parade with a dazzling display from the both political parties.

And Lenin bespoke, "Communists of the World – Unite!"


Anonymous said...

who is holding the Jalur Gemilang?

breezy said...

wow...you were there so early already! hahaha... nice!


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