Good Friday is a Christian holiday which marks the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion some two thousand years ago. It is for Christians a solemn day in which they recap the events of Calvary, the place where Jesus met his death.
Christians went to church and then hurried home in silence to mourn the death of Jesus it was a day for churchgoers. It was almost unheard of for a good Christian to miss a Good Friday service. On Good Friday, many persons who have not, all year, seen a Church door, flocked to their churches. Good Friday is one of those days in which attendance at Church was unmatched.
Traditionally in Guyana this was also unquestionably the quietest day of the year. On Good Friday if a pin dropped you could hear it. It was a day in which the country halted.
The British and Dutch who colonized our country ensured that certain practices, related to Christianity were incorporated into the law and were part of national customs. They ensured that this was a solemn day regardless of whether or not you were a Christian.
On Good Friday of yore, everything shut down. Businesses – big, small and tiny – closed their doors. The factories did not grind, workers did not work, shops did not open and the streets were mainly deserted since persons did not venture out of their homes except to go to Church. This latter exercise was so solemn that the going and coming from church was a hush exercise.
Schools were in recess but strict restrictions were imposed upon the children on this day. They could not go outdoors to play. And indoors they were required to be extremely quiet. This was not a day for playing music, games or for dancing. That would have been unthinkable forty years ago.
The streets were barren for most of the day. No alcohol was sold on Good Friday. The bars were shut tight. There was no noise nuisance on Good Friday.
Not a kite was to be seen in the sky. People stayed locked away in their homes.
Most Christians did not eat “rank” on Good Friday. Cross buns and vegetarian meals were consumed in austere amounts on this day by both Christians and non-Christians.
On Good Friday, persons stayed home and tried to pass the day away quietly. It was usually hard to avoid boredom. The radio – there was no television in those days – added to the somberness of the day by mainly playing only religious songs. It was a day to remember and in many ways a day to endure.
The quietness and confinement are long gone. Today Good Friday is still solemn but this does not stop persons from being on the streets. It will also not stop many shops from opening for the day so as to make a dollar.
This raises a most important issue. Guyana is a land of many religions. Not all Guyanese observe Good Friday. For obvious reasons it is not a holy day for Hindus and Muslims. So what should prevent a person who is not a Christian from having access to the markets, shops and stores? After all, should a person in a free society not have the right to choose?
One of the reasons why despite Good Friday not being a holy day for non-Christians, stores and shops generally do not open, is out of respect for the religious feelings of Christians. But mainly because of tradition.
Every person should respect the religious observances of others. And thus even if there is no law against certain practices, citizens should by their own actions ensure that no disrespect is brought to any religious grouping.
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