Harthal signifies closing of offices and shops in India as a mark of public protest or sorrow.
This form of public protest dates back to days of British colonial rule in India. Repressive actions infringing on human rights by the colonial British Government and princely states against countrywide peaceful movement for ending British rule in India often triggered such localised public protest.
After the British conceded independence to India on 15 August 1947, Harthals in free India were often observed mostly as a mark of public sorrow to mourn the demise of public men and great leaders. It is also observed to mourn the deaths as a consequence of calamities, man-made or natural, that leave many people dead and injured.