03/18/2019 India (International Christian Concern) – As India prepares for the national elections running from April 11 to May 19, many Catholics have expressed concern over the disregard for the Holy Week of Easter. For Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states, those wishing to vote will have to report to the polls on April 18th, also known as Maundy Thursday. The Thursday before Easter typically signifies a time of reflecting on the Eucharist and the washing of the feet, as a symbol of Jesus’ actions. There are several hundreds of Catholics who have also been placed on election duty and will therefore not be able to participate in their religious ceremonies. Those Christians who are working in government positions are significantly impacted by decisions like these that disregard Christian holy days.
Several archbishops have written to the Election Commission and other officers, requesting a change in date so that those Catholics can freely worship. Reflecting back to 1980, when an election coincided with Holy Week, one archbishop noted that the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu postponed the polling day to accommodate Christians. So far, no changes have been made for the 2019 elections.
Dioceses in Chhattisgarh state are preparing for the elections by holding a marathon prayer vigil. Moving from parish to parish, those in attendance pray, read Scripture and sing. Many of India’s Christians are preparing for the upcoming elections, especially facing concern over the BJP and criticism over its pro-Hindu stance.
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