Aizawl: In the predominantly Christian state of Mizoram, Sundays are cherished as a day of rest and worship, and this tradition held strong when the central government called for a nationwide cleanliness drive on October 1, a Sunday. Mizoram, true to its values, stood its ground against the scheduling conflict.
The Mizoram state government, acknowledging the significance of Sunday in the lives of its Christian-majority population, opted not to participate in the Swachhata Pakhwada – Swachhata Hi Seva (SHS) 2023, the nationwide cleanliness drive, on October 1. Instead, they decided to observe it on Monday, October 2, which is celebrated as Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
In a statement posted on his Instagram account, Chief Minister Zoramthanga emphasised that traditionally, Cleanliness Week had been observed from October 2, coinciding with Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. However, this year, the central government had extended the observation period from September 15 to October 2.
“Given that October 1 falls on a Sunday, a day when church members attend their places of worship, participation in the drive would be challenging. To accommodate all churchgoers and ensure their involvement, we have postponed the nationwide cleanliness drive to Monday, October 2,” Zoramthanga explained.
October 2 will mark the commencement of Cleanliness Week in the state, ensuring that religious traditions are respected while promoting cleanliness and sanitation.
Previously, the Chief Minister had assured the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC), a coalition of leaders from major church denominations in the state, that the nationwide cleanliness drive, initially scheduled for Sunday, would be rescheduled to Monday. MKHC leaders expressed their strong objection to the central government’s proposal to hold the cleanliness drive on Sunday, which they consider a sacred day for Christians worldwide.
“Sundays are dedicated to worshipping God in almost all local churches, and organising government functions on that day is not acceptable,” declared the MKHC leaders, who appealed to the Chief Minister to defer the drive to October 2.
In a show of support, church leaders agreed to convey the message of the cleanliness drive during Sunday prayer and worship services in all local churches. Civil society organisations and political parties also raised objections to conducting government functions on Sundays.
However, despite the reservations, the Swachhata Pakhwada – Swachhata Hi Seva (SHS) 2023, the nationwide cleanliness drive, went ahead at Raj Bhavan in Aizawl, as well as in some central institutes, paramilitary forces, and central government office premises in the state on Sunday.
Governor Dr. Hari Babu Kambhampati led a cleanliness drive near Raj Bhavan Mizoram, accompanied by officers and staff. Chief Secretary Dr. Renu Sharma led a similar effort at Assam Rifles Ground and Dawrpui Bazar, joined by Aizawl DC Nazuk Kumar.
The cleaning procession involved participants from 2 (Lakhimpur) Bn. Assam Rifles and officials from PHED, UD&PA, and the DC Aizawl office, collectively contributing to the cleanliness drive in AR Ground and the main street of Dawrpui Bazar.