Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – In Nepal, Christmas is an opportunity for Christians and non-Christians to meet the Catholic faith and pray that the country’s difficult political and economic crisis may be overcome.
Bishal Shercha was born in a Hindu family but for the past year he has been taking catechism lessons and this year is celebrating Christmas for the first time.
"Earlier I was impressed with the Catholic service and I started visiting a church. Here, everyone is helpful and their love for me encouraged me to join Catholicism. Thus, I am taking regular catechumen classes,” he said.
“Before I didn't know about Christmas but this year I have invited my family to Christmas mass and I will buy photographs of Jesus Christ to give to my wife to put on the wall of my room. I hope this Christmas will not only make me stronger in Christianity but also bring my family and my son to Catholicism,” he added.
For Fr Robin Rai, from Assumption Cathedral, this year the atmosphere is different for Christians than in the past. They now can show the value of Christmas.
“Despite the country’s serious economic crisis, there have been no threats from Hindu extremists this year,” he said. “Perhaps, people have come to understand and have changed their view towards the Catholic Church in Nepal.”
The clergyman noted that Catholics have usually refrained from celebrating Christmas very ostentatiously. Instead, they have focused on their own spiritual growth as guidance to their lives.
“Political instability and other problems that touch the heart remain external to them,” Fr Rai said.
However, for the priest, praying for the country and the coming of Christ and his vision for the earth are important for everyone. They should help solve Nepal’s political and economic problems.
In Nepal’s Catholic parishes, the prevailing atmosphere of calm has pushed many young Catholics to prepare decorations and Christmas carols for Midnight Mass.
“Many young people get involved in Christmas preparations,” said Prakash Khadka, national president of International Movement of Catholic Student. In fact, many students are taking advantage of the holidays to devote time for Christmas carols and church decoration.
“All these activities encourage us to serve God and strengthen our faith,” he explained