Christians want Easter declared public holiday in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) has urged authorities not to allow educational institutions to hold examinations on Easter Sunday. The organization also called on the government to declare Easter a public holiday.

In a press statement on April 4, BCA president Nirmol Rozario and secretary Hemanta Corraya called on educational institutions not to hold examinations on April 17.

“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,” the statement said.

Shojib Minj, a 22-year-old Oran Catholic student at a private university, was unhappy about exams being slated for Easter Sunday.

“We are now third-year students and our exams are ongoing. According to the routine, our course exam is on April 17, the day of Easter. But my wish is to go to the village and celebrate with my relatives and parents,” Minj told UCA News.

He also urged educational institutions not to hold exams on that day and said the government should declare Easter a public holiday.

Christians form a tiny minority in Bangladesh — less than half a percent of 160 million people in the Muslim-majority country. Of an estimated 600,000 Christians, the majority, about 400,000, are Catholics.

The Christian community in Bangladesh has long demanded a public holiday on Easter Sunday, but the government has yet to comply.

“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,” BCA secretary Corraya told UCA News.

“We 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.”

Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur said he agreed with the BCA's demand.

“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.