Christian leaders in Bangladesh have expressed frustration over the government’s decision to curtail Christmas and New Year celebrations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter, the Department of Interior Public Safety ordered various state departments and agencies to take action to limit celebrations and ban all outdoor festivities over Christmas and New Year’s Day. ‘Year.
“It would be reasonable to hold any meetings, gatherings and religious, social and cultural programs in a very limited way by strictly following health guidelines on Christmas Day and the night of December 31, the last day of the Christian calendar,” said the letter dated of December 14.
“Due to the highly contagious coronavirus, all religious and social ceremonies and public gatherings around the world are celebrated at the national level in a very limited way. In this regard, religious ceremonies of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have also been observed in Bangladesh.
According to government data, Bangladesh has recorded a 2% drop in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks. Two Bangladeshi female cricketers, who recently tested positive for the Omicron variant after touring Zimbabwe, have recovered.
However, public health experts have raised concerns about a new outbreak amid people’s growing reluctance to wear masks and defiance of health guidelines.
For Christians, Christmas is the only major annual event of the year, which they want to celebrate freely with adequate security measures.
Oblate Archbishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Dhaka called the decision to cut short Christmas celebrations unfortunate.
“It is true that the coronavirus is spreading globally, especially the Omicron variant, but not so much in Bangladesh yet. Also, the state celebrated on a grand scale just a few days ago the 50th anniversary of the independence for Bangladesh. The government should not have taken this decision just before Christmas,” Archbishop D’Cruze told UCA News.
The Prelate pointed out that during the Jubilee celebrations, nothing was restricted and even foreign guests were present. Educational institutes, markets and offices are open and there are no restrictions nationwide.
“For Christians, Christmas is the only major annual event of the year, which they want to celebrate freely with adequate security measures. There are also priestly ordinations in various parishes. So why the ban? Yes , we must respect the health rules and we will do our best to negotiate with the government if necessary, ”he added.
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Nirmol Rozario, president of the Christian Association of Bangladesh, said he had not yet seen the directive from the Home Ministry.
“Recently we had a meeting with Home Office officials where they assured us they would provide security, but there was no talk of restrictions. However, I think our programs will be as they should be, without any problems. We will speak to government bodies responsible for this issue,” Rozario, a Catholic, told UCA News.
In predominantly Muslim Bangladesh, Christians make up less than 0.5% of more than 160 million people. There are about 600,000 Christians, mostly Catholics, and about half of them are from indigenous groups.
Christmas is the only Christian holiday in Bangladesh that has a public holiday.
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