For harmony plus: A solid foundation!


Today we see the necessity for social harmony, as never before. Unless some meaningful and out of the box action is taken soon, our beautiful country is faced with doom. In this regard, I humbly present a recipe, which is likely to help achieve the cherished goal of a harmonious society, and in addition boost our economy as well.

In this regard, our National (commemorative) holidays could be re-fashioned and utilized to reach the goal of harmony, and beyond.

Twenty-five holidays are declared annually, in commemoration of some event or other, but, can the declaration of a National Holiday, in commemoration of an event, where the majority of the people will do nothing connected with the event, be justified?

A close look at the list of public holidays shows that 23 out of the 25 declared, have ethno-religious commemorative significance, affording an ideal opportunity, only if used appropriately, to promote cross-faith interactions. There are only two days shared by all, i.e. Independence Day and the May Day. These two days with another eight days which are considered to be of the highest importance to the respective ethnic or religious group, namely Thai Pongal, Sinhala and Tamil New Year (2 days), Vesak (2 days), Poson, Ramazan and Christmas – a group of 10, need to be considered separately. During these 10 days, there are large scale religious observances, social events and/or family reunions. This group of 10 could constitute our ‘Commemorative Holidays’.

The remaining 15 commemorative events consisting of ten Poya, Hadji, Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, Mahasivarathri, Deepavali and Good Friday could be made full working days, with the exception that the first two hours i.e. 8 to 10 be spent in an activity devoted to the significance of that particular day’s event.

Accordingly, on a Poya Day there could be a Bana preaching/meditation session; on Hadji and Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, a programme on some aspect of Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet; on Deepavali and MahaSivarathri Day a Hindu religious/cultural programme, and on Good Friday a Prayer Service, talk and discussion on the life of Jesus Christ. This will ensure that everyone will at least spend some time meaningfully, in observance of the particular event commemorated. It will also promote understanding of the different religions and cultures, and integration and harmony amongst the different religious and ethnic groups, as they all together willbe involved in making arrangements and participating in each other’s function, and getting back to work (or class-room) after partaking in fellowship and refreshments.

One should not forget the fact that a number of Buddhists observe ‘Ata-Sil’on most Poya days. As ‘Ata-Sil’ observance need not necessarily be on the Poya day, arrangements could be made to hold such observances on the Sunday following or preceding the Poya. In fact, many schools arrange their ‘Ata-Sil’ observances on the school day preceding the Poya.

Since over the years we have been used to the idea of enjoying ‘long week-ends’, consideration could be given to declaring one Monday or Friday in each quarter of the year, simply as an additional holiday, to encourage people to take a longer break and engage in an activity of their choice, which is a healthy concept. This would make a total of 14 ‘National Holidays’.

Thus it will be seen that this proposed scheme, will curtail the number of holidays and increase the number of working days, thereby helping the country’s smooth administration and economy; with a little give and take, it is likely to promote better understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures, build bridges, facilitate cross faith interactions and regain inter community trust which is essential for ensuring harmony and oneness - particularly important in the coming days of a rejuvenated effort to achieve harmony, and nation rebuilding. The clock keeps ticking; action with inspiration and determination is needed soon!

Dr. L. A. W. Sirisena

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...