This opinion of mine may be an uncomfortable truth for many of us but let us face it as a food for thought and nothing as against Christian principles.

The closure of shops on Sundays in Nagaland is a standard rooted in the state’s predominantly Christian populace. Sundays are considered sacred, a day of rest and worship, and many believe that the closure of businesses aligns with this belief. The Church and several civil society organizations advocate for this practice, reflecting the state’s religious values.

However, it is crucial to examine the broader implications of these closures.

Firstly, without denying the fact that Nagaland is largely Christian state, it is also home to people of other religious faiths. We often criticize the Hindu majority in mainland India for imposing their religious ideologies on minorities, advocating for a secular nation. Perhaps, the result of the recent Lok Sabha elections was a manifestation of that belief. But are we not displaying a double standard by enforcing Sunday closures based on Christian principles? Nagaland is an integral part of the Indian Union, a secular country; our state must also conform to the secular principles.

Secondly, many employed individuals work throughout the week and have Sundays as their only day off to run errands and shop for essentials. In other cities, weekends are the busiest for businesses, offering crucial economic opportunities. By closing shops on Sundays, we may be inadvertently hindering economic activity and convenience for many.

Thirdly, it is important to maintain a clear distinction between the roles of the state and religious institutions. Conflating state policies with religious dictates can be unhealthy and potentially dangerous. The state should ensure secularism and individual freedoms, while the Church should focus on spiritual guidance.

Finally, a more balanced approach could be to encourage voluntary observance of Sunday closures. This would respect individual choice and uphold secular principles. Alternatively, shops could operate on reduced hours on Sundays, closing during church services to allow Christians to observe their faith while still providing essential services to those in need.

While the sentiment behind Sunday closures in Nagaland is understandable, a more inclusive and flexible approach would better serve the diverse population and uphold the principles of secularism. This would allow for a respectful coexistence of religious practices and economic necessities, reflecting a truly inclusive society.

Talimoa, Mangkolemba

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