Kannada Rajyotsava (Kannada: ಕನ್ನಡ ರಾಜ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ; Karnataka Formation Day; literally "Birth of the Karnataka state") is celebrated on 1 November of every year. This was the day in 1956 when all the Kannada language-speaking regions of South India were merged to form the state of Karnataka.
The Rajyotsava day is listed as a government holiday in the state of Karnataka and is celebrated by Kannadigas across the world. It is marked by the announcement and presentation of the honours list for Rajyotsava Awards by the Government of Karnataka, hoisting of the unofficial Karnataka flag with an address from the Chief Minister and Governor of the state along with community festivals, orchestra, Kannada book releases and concerts.
Aluru Venkata Rao was the first person who dreamt of unifying the State as early as 1905 with the Karnataka Ekikarana movement. In 1950, India became republic and different provinces were formed in the country on basis of language spoken in the particular region and this gave birth to the state of Mysore including various places in south India, which were earlier ruled by the kings.
On 1 November 1956, Mysore state, comprising most of the area of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore, was merged with the Kannada-speaking areas of the Bombay and Madras presidencies, as also of the principality of Hyderabad, to create a unified Kannada-speaking sub national entity. North Karnataka, Malnad (Canara) and old Mysore were thus the three regions of the newly formed Mysore state.
The newly unified state initially retained the name "Mysore", which was that of the erstwhile princely state which formed the core of the new entity. But the people of North Karnataka did not favour the retention of the name Mysore, as it was closely associated with the erstwhile principality and the southern areas of the new state. In deference to this logic, the name of the state was changed to "Karnataka" on 1 November 1973. Devaraj Urs was the Chief Minister of the state when this landmark decision was taken. Other people credited for the unification of Karnataka include littérateurs like K. Shivaram Karanth, Kuvempu, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, A. N. Krishna Rao and B. M. Srikantaiah.
Rajyotsava day is celebrated with great joy and vigour all over the state of Karnataka. The entire state wears a festive look on this day as the red and yellow Kannada flags are hoisted at different strategic locations across the state and the Kannada anthem ("Jaya Bharatha Jananiya Tanujate") is chanted. The flag is hoisted at political party offices and several localities even as youth in many areas take out processions on two-wheelers. Religion not being a factor, the Rajyotsava is celebrated by Hindus, Muslims and Christians as well.
The state government asserts Rajyotsava awards on this day, which are awarded to people responsible for great contributions in the development of Karnataka. The Chief Minister of the State inaugurates the cultural show which is normally held at Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore. Awards are presented to students who have won medals in various national games.
The celebrations are marked by multicoloured tableaux carrying the picture of the Goddess Bhuvaneshwari mounted on a decorated vehicle. The colourful procession is also accompanied by performances of the folk artists in the fields of drama (Bayalata), traditional dance (Dollu Kunitha, Kamsale, Veeragase, Kolata) and classical carnatic music.
Since 1 November is a public holiday, it is celebrated at commercial establishments in the following days of the week. Kannada flags are prominently hoisted and displayed at almost all office and business establishments across the city of Bengaluru. Being a hub of several IT companies, Bengaluru's major firms like TCS, Thomson Reuters, Wipro, Robert Bosch, SAP Labs, Accenture, Alcatel-Lucent and Infosys encourage employees to showcase the local favour by holding cultural events. The IT crowd show their support by wearing Kannada-themed T-shirts to workplaces. Educational institutions also hold such events at schools along with flag-hoisting and the rendering of naadageethe.
Apart from celebrations in Karnataka, it is also observed in other regions of India with significant Kannadiga population like Mumbai, New Delhi, Gurgaon and Chennai. Overseas Kannada organisations also take part in the festivities by arranging cultural events in countries like United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Dubai, Qatar Muscat, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and Germany.