03/10/2016, 18.33
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Catholics and Buddhists want Good Friday as a statutory holiday

by Melani Manel Perera

A petition is circulating destined for President Sirisena. So far, some 50,000 people have signed on. For business executive, "Every Buddhist celebration is a holiday. Why shouldn’t we participate in the Passion of the Lord?” At present, Good Friday is a holiday only for banks and government offices.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Many Sri Lankan Catholics want the Sri Lankan government to make Good Friday a statutory holiday so that anyone who wants can share in the activities organised by the Church to mark the Passion of Christ.

A lay association, the ‘Divine Group of the Mystical Rose’, is leading the way with a petition for Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. So far, 50,000 people have signed it.

For some Catholics working in the private sector, “Good Friday is a holy day for us and should also be a holiday; otherwise, we are busy the whole day and miss out on the celebrations.”

Suranjith Fernando, a Colombo executive, agrees. "The government was quick to honour the memory of Mahanayake Thero,” a high-ranking Buddhist monk, “with a day of mourning”.

“The authorities also declared next Sunday another public day of mourning for the passing of the Venerable Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thero. For this reason, the government should make Good Friday a public holiday, and allow everyone to participate."

"Sure, we can ask for a day off,” said Nuwanthi says Anne, a mother who works for a delivery company, “but that's not the point. This day should be a holiday like the Poya* for Buddhists. The difference is that we are not asking for one day once a month, but once a year."

Catholics are not the only ones interested in celebration the Passion of Christ. Some Buddhists would like to take part as well.

Chathurika Gunasena, a young Buddhist woman who works as a secretary, said that many of her co-religionists like the representation of the Lord’s last hours. "For this reason, we agree with the request to have Good Friday set aside as a statutory holiday."

In Sri Lanka, Good Friday is a holiday only for banks and government offices.

* Poya is the Sri Lankan name for the Buddhist holiday of Uposatha, which occurs every full moon.



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