Of late there was a hue and cry over the issue of concluding the upcoming Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival on a Sunday. There are those who feel that the matter is best left to individuals to decide while there are those who feel that Sunday is a worship day for Christians and so concluding the festival on a Sunday is not ideal at all.
I have watched both sides of the debate. I have also seen the comments made by Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh on this matter. Of course, nobody is forcing anybody to attend the festival on a Sunday. It is a matter of one’s choice. As a Christian, I feel that this matter is not too difficult or complex to make a stand. I will not attend the festival on a Sunday. But at the same time, I will not force others not to attend just because I am not attending.
Respect is an essential requirement of living in a society. We certainly owe a basic level of respect to others. One of the best ways of showing respect to others is listening. Listening to another person’s point of view is an excellent way of respect. Most noteworthy, we must allow a person to express his views even if we disagree with them.
Another important aspect of respecting others is religious/political views. Religious and cultural beliefs of others should be given a lot of consideration. Respecting other people’s religions is certainly a sign of showing mature respect. Those who are non-Christians have every right to attend the festival on any day that they choose to. As a Christian, I have no right to decide for them. At the same time, I feel that the organisers or the Tourism Minister should also have the humility to listen to others’ points of view even if they don’t subscribe to such points of view.
After all, I think the issue that should be debated is not regarding the day when the festival is held or concluded. We should rather debate as to whether this festival will really benefit the State in any manner, whether the State government is wasting public money in organising such festivals and whether tourism will see a change from such festivals. These are some of the questions which I think should be asked or debated or looked into by everyone – the public and the State government.