ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s largest Christian denomination, the Roman Catholics are being asked to mark an austere Christmas as the second wave of Covid 19 infections sweeps across the island nation claiming lives and infecting more than 30,000 people.
In the commercial capital Colombo today December 17, the Archbishop, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith asked the faithful to look for “today’s Emmanuel in the midst of the poor, the hungry and the lonely, the sick and the suffering and among the hundreds of families deprived of the means to sustenance due to the pandemic.”
Christmas, in this Buddhist-majority country, is usually widely celebrated and most institutions hold office parties as streets are decorated and shoppers throng the malls.
Most private sector companies hand out annual bonuses and Hotels hold Christmas celebrations as part of a tradition handed down by European colonizers who held the island for several centuries.
These festivities went on even during the 30-year civil war that savaged the country from the late 1970s, and in fact, there was an informal ceasefire in operation during Christmas in most years.
However, with the economy in recession, factories mostly shut down and tourism halted most employers have no cash to hand out.
However this time the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the festivities with the faithful being urged to “cut down on as much as possible on external signs of celebration but make Christmas an occasion to pray for one another, especially the afflicted ones and to organize campaigns of assistance to especially those in lockdown zones, homes for elders, children’s homes and such institutions that care for others.”
(Colombo, December 17, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana