A recent e-petition requesting that politicians implement bank holidays in honor of the Hindu festival Diwali and the Muslim Eid celebration has resulted in over 120,000 signatures and is being considered for debate in the House of Commons; under petition laws which were executed in 2011, a petition of this nature must be considered in parliament once it reaches 100,000 signatures.
The petition, started by John Timmins, was posted on the U.K.’s petition site; should parliament agree to honor the holidays, it will mark the first religious bank holidays in Britain that caters to a religion other than Christianity, leading to claims that the country will be forced to recognize a wide variety of holidays belonging to other religions as well.
While the debate has sparked outrage by nationalist groups who believe that both St. George’s and St. David’s Day should both be marked by holidays, e-petitions set up in order to facilitate this seem to indicate that public opinion may not be with them, having garnered less than 300 signatures.
The Hindu festival Diwali is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated in autumn, while the Muslim holiday Eid takes place upon the completion of Ramadan when Muslims consent to break their fast.
Given its apparent popularity, along with its passing the 100,000 signature mark, the e-petition has now been sent to the Backbench Business Committee in order to determine its suitability as a parliamentary debate.
Given the sheer size of the Muslim and Hindu populations in Britain, many considered it common sense that the Muslim and Hindu holidays should be recognized by law, yet the petition has become a topic of fierce debate throughout internet forums and popular social media platforms, and public opinion appears to be divided.
While some are more tactful than others, the objections range from the fact that the country would be left open to obligations to celebrate the religious holidays of a number of religions to suggestions that if people don’t like the UK’s policies on holidays and the like, they’re free to leave.
One surprising opponent was Vinod Popat, chairman of The British Hindu Voice who remarked that he didn’t think it was a good idea since Diwali has no set date and is dependent on a lunar calendar.
Some critics object based on the difficulties presented by Easter, which tends to jump around due to it’s timing being determined by the full moon and spring equinox; however it would seem that Britain does have the time to spare particularly as they have only 8 bank holidays per year, the second lowest number of bank holidays in the world behind Mexico.