Thursday, October 5, 2017
Its time we abolished Poya Days as holidays from our Calendar. It serves no meaningful purpose.
I hope someone has the courage to think of the Country and bring forward the notion to abolish Poya Days as Public Holidays from our Calendar, without delay.
The reasons are too numerous and I will mention just a few and no doubt you can add to the list, and please take religion out of the argument as it has nothing to do with religion, as Sri Lanka is the only majority Buddhist Country to have this public holiday, and it has not increased Temple worship, it has not made people more pious and follow the Buddhist tenets and it has given the Maha Sangha an excuse to become extremely un Buddhist and build palaces and get into a race to outdo the rival temple, instead of preaching the essence of removing all desire from oneself.
So here are some of the reasons.
As country due to the Poya been given as a public holiday by now each man woman and child in Sri Lanka is worse of to the tube of Rs10K a month, as we are so far behind due to a break on productivity and competitiveness. I know people will tell me money is not everything, but they are those who have nothing better to do with their money. 90% of the people live from day to day, and it rings a bell in their ears, if they had more to spend on their essentials!
Children have lost 6 months of school education due to the day being a school holiday throughout their growing years, and this not only affects competitiveness, it affects their ability to get ahead in life in their chosen field. This with the further delay of 6months due to the O level delays, mean we have a crucial absence from studies, when we need youth to enter the labor force earlier instead of later.
Alcohol sales peak the day before Poya and most people spend or waste the day in booze further worsening the quality of life of their families and use this odd day to have get togethers that end up in an alcohol haze. No doubt the Alcohol producing companies love Poya Days as even though the Wine stores are closed, the prior day’s sales more than make up for that!
The rest of the world works on this day, and to be competitive with other countries we must work to their schedules, and if we are on holiday, they will take their business elsewhere. I know it was set up when there was NO internet. In this internet age where everything is about instant fulfillment and people work day and night on a shift and not to a calendar time, it becomes even more anomalous that it is a holiday that requires workers to be paid more to work on this day. I also believe when this change is made the labor laws of Sri Lanka are changed at the same time to make sure employers will take on more staff, not less as is the case now due to the high cost of employment, with Poya being one of those costs!
The people like a day off, and also the fact that they get paid to stay at home, and those who work are paid double time. However this comes at a huge price to the economy, which the people don’t directly feel, because it is they who suffer and I come back to the original statement of losing Rs10K in income a month at this stage due to it.
Temples use this day to further fleece the benevolent of their hard earned money for some temple function that keeps the Temples busy, but at what cost, as the priests do not understand the strain on the economy to help upkeep increasingly extravagant temples on the island. If Poya was not a holiday there would not have been such an excess of waste of temples. Remember in 5 years over 1,000 temples a year will have to close due to the lack of priests and pray who will take over their upkeep, other than unsavory opportunistic characters hoping to cash out of people’s generosity. We must understand that the Buddhist clergy by and large is not regulated and there are more than a few instances of their using their position for personal gain.
Like this weekend many people take another day off, and especially the 1,4M government servants making it doubly costly to the Country, and private enterprise. So it becomes a 4 day weekend about 4 of the 12 Poyas. So effectively it is another 4 days! I suggest we restrict it to only Vesak and Poson as public holidays.
Hotels may prefer it because they get good business from 4 day weekenders going out of town.
To put it another way the Country has lost a whole year since the Poya days were established, and no one seems to have even pointed it out, as they fear reprisals from those who benefit from it. To add insult to injury the Clergy are demanding that there is NO tuition classes on Poya days, denying a student’s right to study a fundamental human right. It is not as if that student will attend the temple on that day surely! Are you kidding me? Just go to the temple on Poya days and you see mainly women who don’t go to work, and so if it was meant to give a holiday for working people to go to Temple, think again.
I know many women go to temple on Poya to take sil just to avoid seeing their husbands drunk from lunch time. They have the lunch made early and go to the temple to avoid this contact. This is purely an insult to the whole idea of Poya days.
It is time we all have a clarion call to make this change in everyone’s interest now!
It is clear that those in power simply don’t understand reality and live in fear of the monks who rule their lives, and not the people or what is right!
If you are a person who works, and takes the day on Poya Day to take sil, then forgive me for my suggestion, as I am sure there are no more than 1,000 in the Country and we can accommodate your need without you losing your pay, you can bet on that.