Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are our public holildays fair to all?

I happened to chance across the Thaipusam festival one day and a thought suddenly hit me. Why can't we enjoy the Thaipusam festival together with the Indians? I have never ever seen the festival because Thaipusam is not a national holiday. It just happened that the festival blockaded some roads that I got a chance to look at it.

I took a look at the list of national holidays and tried to categorise it as follows:
  • Start of a new year: New Year's Day, Chinese New Year
  • Christians: Good Friday, Christmas
  • Muslims: Hari Raya Puasa, Hari Raya Haji
  • Buddhist: Vesak Day 
  • Hindu: Deepavali (4th day is also known as the new year)
  • For all: Labour Day

If you look at it based on the categories above, it would seem that the Buddhists and the Hindu are not having as many holidays as the Christians and Malays. I also know of Indian colleagues that have to take leave so that they could celebrate Thaipusam. Is it fair to them, considering that Indians are also one of the 4 major races in Singapore?

It would seem that the Hindus are under-represented in Singapore. Even in our neighbouring country, Thaipusam is celebrated as a national holiday. On a side note, the Buddhists there also celebrate Vesākha. If we try to compare the number of public holidays we have with other countries, you can see why we have one of the lowest total fertility rate in the world. We're all work and no play.


Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, Deepavali is NOT New Year for Indians. Indian New Year follows the hindu calendar and it falls in the month of April.

The long held explanation for the 1 day public holiday alloted for Indians is that Buddhism hails from India technically making it an Indian public holiday though the vast majority of Buddhists in SG are Chinese.

Just another case of "Devil lies in the details"!

Anonymous said...

As fair as can be. Deepavali and Vesak are meant for "Indians".
The Malays get 2 days, and the Chinese 2 days.

Do note that the holidays are for the races, and not for religions. Hari Raya and CNY are not religious festivals. Even Christmas Day is arguably pagan and non-religious.

If you want to split hairs, then the Chinese can insist on proportionate representation - they should get 75% of the holidays.

Why are you bringing this up?

chantc said...

The point is never about the public holidays. It is about understanding other religions.

I'm not sure where you get the information that Deepavali has to do with Buddhism because I did some minor research on this before I wrote this. Deepavali is based on Hinduism, although it is celebrated by some Buddhists.

Would you still take this stand if you're a Buddhist and Vesak day is not a public holiday? You will need to sacrifice your 1 day of leave so that you can celebrate that special day. Furthermore, some has to take unpaid leave.

The problem now which I feel in Singapore is that everything is measured against money. Productivity? It's all about money. What about other things? Spiritually? Happiness?

I'm going off topic so I'll leave it as that.

Like I said above, how would you feel if you're a devout X and you have to take leave to celebrate the event that has a deep significance to your X?

Anonymous said...

Hari Raya IS a religious festival. You're only Malaynising the thing.

Hari Raya is to celebrate the victory over the self (ego) after a month long fast. It's called "Eid al Fitr" in Arabic.

Rhinestic said...

haha, anonymous1 and anonymous2 are right though.. Technically, Buddhism was founded in India, not China. And the holidays are indeed "allocated" by races..

Chinese - Chinese New Year (2 days)
Malay - Hari Raya Puasa + Hari Raya Haji
Indians - Vesak Day + Deepavali (Poor Hindus and Sikhs)
Others - Christmas Day + New Year's Day
For all - Labour Day + National Day

Anonymous said...

Vesak Day was not alloted. Buddhists campaigned long and hard for it. It was David Marshall's government who approved Vesak Day as a public holiday.

Anonymous said...

The Chinese living in US, UK, AUS, do not get Chinese New Year. This is not fair too.

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