Bangladesh, Easter is a national holiday

For the first time in 30 years, the Christian holiday returns to the civil calendar.  On April 21st all schools in the country will remain closed.  The initiative is due to the first Catholic woman parliamentarian, Gloria Jharna Sarker.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - For the first time in 30 years, Easter is a national holiday in Bangladesh.  Local Christians, who rejoice at the news, tell AsiaNews.  "We are happy - they say - this is a positive sign for relations between religions".  

The restoration of the Christian holiday is due to the work of Gloria Jharna Sarker, the first Catholic woman parliamentarian to have won a seat in the last elections, which fought to have the rights of the Christian community recognized at the state level.

On April 21st all schools in the country will remain closed.  Easter Sunday was not a public holiday since the mid-1980s, when the then dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad had the secular constitution of the country changed in a religious key, introducing Islam as the state religion.  

Previously, explains a Dhaka merchant, "since independence gained in 1971, Sunday was a day of celebration, and Easter too.  However, the dictator changed the calendar, setting Friday as a government holiday on the basis of Islamic tradition.  In this way the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ was excluded from the nationally recognized festivities ”.

After the change of the holiday calendar, he continues, "even the bishops did not do much to oppose, as opposed to some ecumenical movements that sometimes gave rise to protest demonstrations, organizing sit-ins and symbolic events".

The first real opportunity presented itself this year with the election of the deputy, who "was able to intelligently exploit a quibble of bureaucracy".  In fact, Islamic moveable festivals in (such as the end of Ramadan) are established each year by a commission led by the Minister for Religious Affairs.  The dates are set according to the movements of the Moon.  At the beginning of the year Minister Sheikh Md Abdullah announced that the Islamic festival of "Shab-e-Barat", the night of destiny, would be held on April 21, at Easter.  Then the various lunar movements moved the day to April 22, Easter Monday.

At that point, the deputy made the request that 21 April be celebrated as a feast day.  This time though, because it's Easter Sunday.  "We do not know if the same will happen in the coming years too - says a Christian from Dinajpur - but for the first time Christians can celebrate the Triduum even in public schools.  This is truly an immense joy ".

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