Students Forced to Attend Classes on Saturday due to Buddhist Sabbath Day
13 September 2011: Local students and teachers in Thantlang Town, Chin State have been forced to go to school on Saturdays in replacement of Buddhist sabbath day that fall on a weekday, mostly Monday.
The Basic Education High School (BEHS) of Thangtlang is closed on Mondays to observe a Buddhist day, known as uposatha, and all the students and teachers are made to come to classes on Saturdays, according to one of the local parents in Thantlang.
A local father, whose name is not revealed, told Chinland Guardian that it is something completely new to the community, something that has come out without their knowledge, and something that has kept on going on for weeks.
One of the school teachers was quoted by Seihnam newsletter as saying: “I think it’s good that we have day-off on Mondays as we don’t go to the Buddhist monastery. And going to school on Saturdays sounds even better for us because we don’t have to contribute the so-called voluntary services to places including the Buddhist monastery.”
In Burma, the Buddhist ‘ubot’ day is commonly observed on full moon and new moon days while devoted Buddhists perform their religious practices in accordance with the four phases of the moon such as waxing, waning, full and new.
Speaking to Chinland Guardian, a government employee said that it is something weird as it is not a public holiday, adding: “This happens only to the No. 1 High School, but not to other schools in town. Obviously, our family has been much disturbed as we don’t have the same day off now.”
It is reported that the unusual change has been introduced to the Chin community with the majority being Christian since a new Burmese headmaster has been appointed to Thangtlang High School.
One of the No. 1 BEHS teachers said in an interview with Seihnam: “As we go to school on Saturday, we don’t have much to prepare for worship services on Sunday. Normally, we wash the clothes, clean the house and get some foods ready for the next day as we tend to gather at a house after the church service.”
Another local complained saying that an important day for Christians such as Good Friday is not observed while schools are closed on the Buddhist days.
A mountainous town having more than 1,600 houses, Thantlang has got three primary and two high schools including a newly upgraded BEHS branch, with a number of the No. 1 BEHS students estimated to be over 2,000.
There are only dozens of Buddhists in Thantlang, mostly government employees including about 15 Burmese teachers from the No. 1 BEHS, according to sources.
Among a population of more than 65,000 people with 8,532 houses in 38 villages of Thantlang Township, there are only 54 Buddhists and three monasteries, according to a recent statistics of religions in Chin State by the government.
Van Biak Thang