Sri Lanka imposes liquor, meat ban for Buddhist festival

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COLOMBO, april 26: 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 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 ever year. (AFP)