May Day prayers for Sri Lankan Christian workers (VIDEO)
by Melani Manel Perera

The Christian Workers Fellowship marked May Day with a Eucharistic celebration and few participants because of coronavirus restrictions. Opposition to religious extremism and environmental protection were among the prayer intentions. Those who sacrificed themselves for workers’ rights were remembered.

 


Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Christian Workers Fellowship (CWF) celebrated May Day with a Mass and prayers. By attending the religious services, its members stressed that “work is a blessing” and, for this reason, “we must thank God”.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 25 people attended the event on the day “the Lord gave us workers”. Its theme this year was “Let’s oppose religious-ethnic extremism. Protect the environment! Let us strengthen the workers' struggle to build a nation of quality”.

Anglican Bishop Dushantha Rodrigo of Colombo led the mass, held in Tamil and Sinhalese. Several priests from surrounding areas joined him in the Church of St Michael and All Angels in Polwatte.

“We celebrated on a small scale, due to the rules imposed by COVID-19,” said Ralston Weinman, one of the spiritual coordinators of the Spiritual Committee of the Anglican Church in Colombo, speaking to AsiaNews.

“Only 25 people are allowed to ensure social distancing,” he added. As a result, the traditional procession, which has a special meaning and beauty, was scrapped.

In his homily Fr Marimuttu Sathivel mentioned the people who made the May Day festival important in Sri Lanka. At top of the list are those who fought for workers’ rights and those who lost their lives at work.

“We salute and pay our respect to the struggle of the laundresses who fought in this area 125 years ago, and to Fr G B Ekanayake, the Father of this church, who led it,” said Fr Sathivel.

The priest also paid tribute to Kombadi and Ponnaian, who sacrificed their lives in 1956 to promote trade union rights among plantation workers in the north of the country, and Sivanu Letchuman who sacrificed his life to save plantation lands in 1977.

For him, in order to build a new society and create new policies, “we must create an environment in which everyone can live happily, peacefully, with protected rights.” To this end, those who sacrificed their lives for this noble cause “shed their blood to give us a new world full of hope” for “workers, the poor and the oppressed”.

In the prayer of the faithful Fr Nishantha and Fr Ruban Pradeep turned their thoughts to those who suffer from COVID-19 in Sri Lanka and around the world, all the victims of the coronavirus and all those who are sick and suffer daily hardships.

A special prayer intention was dedicated to peace, the protection of nature and the well-being of the people of the planet, together with the governments called to lay out policies for the future.

According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the country’s unemployment rate averaged  4.18 per cent between 1999 and 2021. The year-on-year employment levels rose in the first quarter of 2021 from 94.30 to 94.60 per cent.

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