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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO–At least three of Suriname’s 15 national holidays can be replaced with new holidays, the Commission National Holidays has concluded. The commission reported that among the over abundant holidays are Good Friday, Id-Ul-Adha -the Muslim holiday to commemorate the “Festival of Sacrifice”- and Divali -the Hindu holiday to mark the “Festival of Lights”-. Scrapping these would enable Government to allocate new national holidays requested by other ethnic groups in the country.
Government has come under fire for the number of new holidays that have been introduced. The Maroon people got a Day, as did the Indigenous People; February 25th was also reinstated as a holiday, to mark the coup d’etat of 1980 that first brought Bouterse –then an Army sergeant- in power.
At a seminar of the Ministry of Home Affairs last May, it was hinted that the cost of the many holidays is in the millions every year, as businesses have no productivity while money is spent on celebrations. Participants recommended cutting it down to no more than five holidays every year, but that suggestion was met with resistance from religious and cultural representatives.
Government established the Commission National Holidays to evaluate all holidays with due consideration for Suriname’s multi-cultural makeup. The Commission recommended as new holidays Sasi Suro, the Javanese new year and Chinese New Year. Losing Good Friday, Id-Ul-Adha and Divali should not pose a problem, the Commission reasons. “People can still request days off from their employers, if they wish to commemorate religious holidays that are important to them,” Commission Chair Marlon Powell said.
Still, while the number of holidays caused raised eyebrows, averting the criticism may still prove tricky. It seems none of the ethnic groups are eager to lose their religious holidays. Paul Doth, a pastor, worded the opinion of the Christians bluntly: “No way Good Friday can be scrapped.” Hindu leaders expressed similar sentiments.