Post Mortem

Sunday Closures - To be or not to be

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 3/1/2019 12:46:09 PM IST

 (From previous issue)

5. We fumed and raged so much when the government at the centre declared December 25th as Good Governance Day, Good Friday as Digital Day, Sunday June 21, 2015 as International Yoga Day but when Sunday is made to be revered by keeping the shutters close, why do make so much ruckus and hullabaloo? Why so much opposition now when the sanctity of the Sunday is made to be maintained? One time we object about Sundays being disrespected and another time we cry out Sundays should be as any other normal day. We should clearly know what we stand for. If we ourselves as Christians do not respect and revere our own holy day(s), no matter how much our level of faith is, then let us not bother and cry foul when others show the least reverence to the day.
History of Sunday
 It was Constantine, the first Christian Emperor who in 321 decreed Sunday to be a day of rest for all Roman citizens throughout the Roman Empire, “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country however persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits because it often happens that another day is not suitable for gain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.” Thus began the institutionalization of Sunday as the day of worship.
With the passage of time, western countries started regarding Sunday as a day of rest. For most observant Christians, Sunday is observed a day of worship and rest, holding it as the Lord’s Day and the day of Christ’s resurrection. In modern times, Sunday is a day of rest and recreation as part of the weekend and weeknight.
 In some Muslim countries and Israel, Sunday is the first day of the week. According to the Hebrew calendars and traditional Christian calendars, Sunday is the first day of the week .But according to the International Organization for Standardization ISO 8601 Sunday is the seventh day of the week. This method of representing dates and times unambiguously was first published in 1988.
Nagas who were influenced by the western missionaries adopted Christianity, and are now following the same.
The question regarding the change of the historical and biblical holy day from Saturday to Sunday is quite long. Generally, Saturday had been the day of worship for Jews and Sunday the day of worship for pagans. When Roman Emperor Adrian expelled the Jews from Jerusalem circa 132AD, essentially making it a crime to practice Judaism, many pagans who had converted to Christianity, keeping the Sabbath (Saturday) as their day of worship, were confused with Jews because of their Sabbath-keeping. These converted Christian worshipers began switching their day of worship from Sabbath to the traditional Sunday, the day they used to keep, as a way to avoid being confused as Jews and persecuted as such. The Canon 29 of the Church Council of Laodicea, circa 363 AD, ordered that religious observances were to be conducted on Sunday, not Saturday in Christendom. Since then Sunday has became the new Sabbath.
Sunday in Indian context: Sunday as official holidays was introduced by British in all their colonies including India. It was for haircut, bath, visiting Church etc. purposes. The British being followers of the Christian faith had to go to the Church for their prayers on Sunday with their families. It was during the times of British, the Sunday was declared as an official public holiday in India in 1843. When the Mughals ruled over India, they declared Fridays as holidays. Likewise the British made it Sunday as holiday during their reign over India which has been followed even after the independence.
In many Muslim countries, Sundays are not regarded as holidays. The working days are usually from Sunday to Thursday with Fridays and Saturdays as holidays. In China the regular working time is generally from Monday to Friday, with Saturday and Sunday off. Here in our state, except for the second and the fourth Saturdays, the other remaining Saturdays too is regarded as working days together with the rest days of the week.
Likewise, since the inception of Dimapur as a commercial hub from a little hamlet, the little number of shops and other business establishments we had at that time, probably have shut down their shutters on Sundays on their own will and no one forced them to do so. Those Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs or Jains never complained but did on their own volition like the rest of India under British. Perhaps these non- Christians found it as an ideal day to take rest or clean their premise when the small fraction of the Naga Christian believer’s population went to worship in the churches on Sundays.
Most Nagas does not venture out to sell their wares or any other items on Sundays, with some few exceptions like butchers in the morning hours. Many Naga auto and taxi drivers take day off to rest or spend time with their families on Sundays. Will those insisting that markets and all shops should be open even on Sundays agree that offices, schools, colleges, banks and all other establishments be opened on Sundays too? Maybe majority of the Nagas are either emotional or theoretical Christians and not practical or spiritual Christians as some argue, but we can atleast, to some extent we can work, shop, buy or stock it during the other six days of the week and relax on the seventh day. That way, we won’t have to resent. Even if one don’t go to the church and worship on this day, let’s not create a commotion or make uproar as it is on this day many believers go to church and uphold the Christian values. Arguing the name ‘Sunday’ was derived from Hellenistic Astrology or the Roman Sun god and has nothing to do with Christianity, one has to keep in mind that if we go through the depths of origins and roots of our Christian traditions, the Easter Eggs and Bunnies, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and reindeers also has nothing to do with it. Even the firecrackers have now become almost inseparable part of the Christmas culture for the many Nagas and have nothing to do with Christianity. Nagaland being a Christian majority state, let us allow our believers to uphold our Christian principles as much as possible, no matter how weak and frail our own faith maybe. Whether one is a devout, lukewarm or a namesake Christian, let us not destroy our own religious values, principles, teachings, beliefs and religious principles for the sake of modernity, development or convenience. And yes just for the sake of arguing. A cartoon in this Nagaland Post on 2nd Feb. read ‘Even if majority doesn’t attend church, most will oppose it.’ What more can we say? 
(Concluded)
Jonah Achumi

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