Holy Rosary Church in Dhaka, Bangladesh Holy Rosary Church in Dhaka, Bangladesh 

Bangladesh: Christians call for Easter to be made public holiday

The Bangladesh Christian Association, an association serving the Christian minority in the Asian country, calls on the government to prohibit educational institutions from holding exams on Easter Sunday.

By Francesca Merlo

The President of the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA), Nirmol Rozario, and his undersecretary, Hemanta Corraya, are urging the country's educational institutions not to schedule public exams on Sunday, 17 April, the day many Christians celebrate Easter.

A statement released by the BCA, and reported on by UCA News reads, "Easter Sunday is one of the major religious festivals of the Christian community all over the world. The day is an optional holiday in the official calendar but we have heard that some educational institutions will conduct exams on that day. Our demand is for students to be given leave to observe the holiday."

Christian community's request

For more than 20 years, Bangladesh's Christian community has been asking the country's authorities to declare Easter Sunday a public holiday, but the government has so far not agreed.

Christians constitute a small minority in the country: less than 1% of over 160 million inhabitants, most of whom are Muslims. Of about 600,000 Christians, almost 400,000 are Catholics (about 0.3% of the country's total population). 

"We have been campaigning for a public holiday on Easter Sunday for almost two decades, but there has been no response from the government. In the future, we will take more people to the streets to ask for this holiday," said Hemanta Corraya.

He added the Bangladeshi Christians want "to demonstrate in the streets for our rights like a holiday at Easter, but we need assistance from the Church. If clergymen join with us, it would be easy to fulfill our demand.” 

Church's support for the request

For his part, Bishop Sebastian Tudu, of Dinajpur in northwest Bangladesh, assured that he supports the BCA's demands.

"Since Easter Sunday is our second largest religious event, examinations at educational institutions are not acceptable on the day. At the same time, from the responsible position of the Church, I also call upon the concerned authorities to declare this day a public holiday," he told UCA News.

13 April 2022, 12:49