Sri Lanka imposes meat ban for Buddhist festival
April 26 2018 12:27 PM
Sri Lanka
A worker adjusts lightbulbs on a pandal, a coloured structure illuminated with bulbs, in Colombo. Sri Lankan Buddhists are preparing to celebrate Vesak, which commemorates the birth of Buddha.


Sri Lanka on Thursday banned the sale of meat and liquor and ordered casinos to close on the Buddha's birthday in a move to appease the island's religious majority. 
The restrictions, which come just days after the government shifted May Day celebrations in a sop to Buddhist monks, will extend to tourist hotels for the two-day Vesak festival starting on Sunday.
"Meat and liquor sales at supermarkets and hotels will be banned during this period," the government said in a statement.
Casinos will be closed and gambling elsewhere also prohibited, the government said.
Bars are usually closed on Buddhist holidays but the decision to ban meat sales at supermarkets is a first and was broadly seen as a gesture to the island's powerful clergy.
It follows the government's surprise decision this month to delay May Day festivities by a week after Buddhist leaders complained the date clashed with Vesak celebrations.
It is the first time the holiday has been shifted from May 1 since Sri Lanka began celebrating the labour day festivities in 1956.
Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority nation of 21 million, celebrates 26 public holidays. The island's 1.5 million civil servants also enjoy another 45 days paid leave every year.

Last updated: April 26 2018 12:27 PM

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