‘Tis the season of sacrifice: No, we don’t want to come to work on the third day of Eid!

Published: August 17, 2018
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A woman showing Mehndi on her hands as she sits on first Eid Special Train leaving for Peshawar from Karachi's Cantt Railway Station in Pakistan. PHOTO: ONLINE

Eidul Azha is next week, and with our government recently announcing Eid holidays, citizens of Pakistan are unhappy, to say the least. The four-day break has been cut down to three days, making the Eid break range from Tuesday to Thursday (August 21-23) in its entirety, and the third day of Eid being a working day.

Many citizens have voiced their concerns over this rather strange and abrupt holiday announcement, and rightly so.

All across the world when people celebrate major occasions, holidays are given accordingly. The best example is perhaps of Christmas, as the fact that it coincides with the New Year leads to most countries announcing holidays in a manner to facilitate people going on vacation or simply going back home for the break. Despite priding itself on being a Muslim country – the Islamic Republic of Pakistan – our government has not done the same to facilitate its citizens, particularly those who work away from their homes.

This is not just about those who want to take a week off to go to Dubai or plan a vacation, or even those of us who would love a week off to eat barbecued meat while binge-watching shows on Netflix. Though it is hard to break out of our bubble of privilege, we have to acknowledge that a significant chunk of Pakistan’s population comes from rural cities and villages, with people moving to bigger, urban cities for work. One must also acknowledge that in many cases, these citizens work in the service industry or are domestic workers, and do not get the same leeway to apply for a leave the way many of us are privileged enough to do.

For such citizens in particular, had the government announced holiday ranged from Tuesday to Friday, or even Wednesday to Friday, it would have given them the perfect opportunity to travel across the country and return to their homes to spend a good amount of time with their families for Eid. Even if the holiday was from Monday to Thursday, that would have given people the occasion to take this weekend to travel back home. Instead, we get an outlandishly offered three-day break where Monday and Friday will be working days.

What do we expect from this three-day break? For people to come to work on Friday – the third day of Eid, mind you – and then have another two days off that could have been spent at home with their families?

What about the fact that many people choose to offer their sacrifice on the third day of Eid itself, as is their right prescribed to them by their religion, and yet they will have to bear the inconvenience of offering their sacrifice and then going to work, despite living in a country that frequently likes to throw its Muslim identity around.

None of this is to suggest that the government should announce a week of public holidays or shower vacation days at us (though that would admittedly be nice). Just that this bizarre announcement is yet more proof that Pakistan time and again falls prey to horrible planning. The government did not need to announce more holidays, just better planned holidays in order to facilitate the people it is supposed to serve. Well planned holidays surely would not hurt any of us, but they would greatly facilitate those who are not in a position to easily take days off or do not work in an industry that allows for such breaks to be possible.

In contrast to Eidul Fitr, Eidul Azha, aka Bari Eid, has many more responsibilities. Not only are there get-togethers where you meet your relatives, you also have the responsibility carry out your sacrifice and then distribute the meat. If the government gives three-day holidays for Eidul Fitr, where the only tiring thing to do is eat as much as you can, why is Eidul Azha not considered as important? It’s not as if Eid stops being relevant by the third day.

Moreover, asking for better holidays so that people can be with their families isn’t uncalled for. It’s not like giving a holiday on the third day of Eid will considerably jolt our economy further, especially when we have so many national holidays already.

This year’s holidays have already been announced and may be it is too late to change anything. However, as we progress towards narratives of change and hope for progress, perhaps we can also progress towards being a state that thinks about its citizens – all of its citizens – for a change, and actually endeavours to facilitate its people wherever it can, no matter how basic the request may seem.

Blogs Desk

Blogs Desk

The Express Tribune Blogs desk.

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