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Bangladeshi Christians. Bangladeshi Christians.  (AFP or licensors)

Easter a holiday in Bangladesh this year

After 30 years, Bangladeshi Christians will be celebrating Easter as a holiday this year.

By Robin Gomes

In Bangladesh, where Sunday is not a holiday, Easter will be celebrated as a holiday for the first time in 30 years.

This was largely the effort of Gloria Jharna Sarker, the first Catholic woman parliamentarian chosen in the last elections who fought to have the rights of the Christian community recognized at the national level, reports AsiaNews.

On Easter Sunday, April 21, all schools in the country will remain closed.  Welcoming the good news, local Christians say it is a positive sign of good relations between religions.  

A Dhaka merchant explained to AsiaNews that since independence gained in 1971, Sunday was a holiday, including Easter Sunday.  However, Sunday ceased to be a holiday since the mid-1980s, when former president Hussain Muhammad Ershad introduced the Islamic tradition making Friday the weekly holiday.  “In this way, the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ was excluded from the nationally recognized festivities ”.

The merchant pointed out that after the Sunday holiday was suppressed, the bishops did not do much to oppose it, unlike some ecumenical movements that sometimes gave rise to protest demonstrations, organizing sit-ins and symbolic events.

However, the Easter holiday this year happened to be mere luck. The merchant explained that an opportunity presented itself this year with the election of the deputy, who "was able to intelligently exploit a quibble of bureaucracy".  Islamic moveable festivals are established each year by a commission led by the Minister for Religious Affairs based on the movement of the moon.  

At the beginning of the year, the Islamic festival of "Shab-e-Barat" (night for forgiveness) was set for April 21, which is Easter.  After a re-calculation of the various lunar movements, the day was moved to April 22, Easter Monday. At that point, April 21 was declared a holiday anyway. 

It is not known whether this will happen in the years to come but this year Christians have welcomed it with joy.   (Source: AsiaNews) 

20 April 2019, 17:53