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Aizawl, Mizoram — October 1, 2023: Mizoram, a predominantly Christian state, held steadfast to its cultural and religious values when faced with a scheduling conflict between a nationwide cleanliness drive and Sunday worship. On October 1, when the central government called for a nationwide cleanliness drive, Mizoram chose to prioritize its cherished day of rest and worship, rescheduling the Swachhata Pakhwada – Swachhata Hi Seva (SHS) 2023 event to October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
In a statement posted on his Instagram account, Chief Minister Zoramthanga emphasized the importance of adhering to traditional practices. Historically, Cleanliness Week in Mizoram had been observed from October 2 to coincide with Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. However, this year, the central government extended the observation period from September 15 to October 2. Recognizing the significance of October 1 as a Sunday, a day when churchgoers attend their places of worship, the Mizoram state government opted for a rescheduled date to ensure full participation.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga’s decision to defer the cleanliness drive to October 2, respecting the sacred day of Sunday worship, was met with approval from the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC), a coalition of leaders representing major church denominations in the state. MKHC leaders had staunchly objected to the central government’s initial plan to hold the cleanliness drive on Sunday, which they considered a sacred day for Christians globally. They deemed Sundays dedicated to worshipping God and expressed their disapproval of government functions taking place on this holy day. The MKHC leaders made their appeal to the Chief Minister, urging the rescheduling of the event to October 2. In a display of solidarity, church leaders pledged to convey the message of the cleanliness drive during Sunday prayer and worship services across local churches. Civil society organizations and political parties also echoed the sentiment, objecting to the scheduling of government functions on Sundays.
However, despite the reservations and the postponement of the cleanliness drive, certain activities proceeded as planned on October 1. At Raj Bhavan in Aizawl, as well as in select central institutes, paramilitary forces, and central government office premises in the state, the Swachhata Pakhwada – Swachhata Hi Seva (SHS) 2023, the nationwide cleanliness drive, went ahead. Governor Dr. Hari Babu Kambhampati took the lead in conducting a cleanliness drive near Raj Bhavan Mizoram, accompanied by government officials and staff. Similarly, Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma spearheaded a similar initiative at the Assam Rifles Ground and Dawrpui Bazar, with the support of Aizawl DC Nazuk Kumar.
As Mizoram looks forward to Cleanliness Week, commencing on October 2, the state remains committed to respecting its religious traditions while promoting cleanliness and sanitation. The rescheduling of the nationwide cleanliness drive showcases the state’s determination to honor its values and accommodate the religious practices of its people.