01/21/2013, 00.00
NEPAL

Bible sales among non-Christians double

Kalpit Parajuli
Tired of Maoist promises, more and more Nepalis turn to the Bible's message of hope, this according to Bible for the World. The Christian text is a bestseller in stores.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Uncertain about the future in the Maoist-ruled country, more and more Nepalis are finding comfort in the Bible. Rev CB Gahararaj, a Protestant clergyman and a member of the US-based Bible for the World, said that 2012 and early 2013 have a seen a boom in sales of the sacred text.

"The number of copies sold has doubled. Stores have run out of Nepali editions of the Bible, forcing printers to increase output," the clergyman said.

People are frustrated by the country's grim social and political situation, torn by divisions between Maoists and monarchists that date back to the civil war.

Disappointed by the populism of the parties of the extreme left that have ruled the country since 2008, "Many non-Christians have found a real source of hope in the Gospel and the Bible."

Since 2007, when the monarchy fell, Nepal has been without a constitution. In the past few years, political parties have failed to adopt the new charter. On seven different occasions, they have failed to approve it because of divisions or general strikes by the Maoist party.

Summary killings dating back to the civil war have complicated political life as families of the victims have been demanded justice in recent years.

Not too long ago, a court accused Prime Minister Baburan Bhattarai, a Maoist, of trying to stop trials involving Maoist fighters involved in massacres, now in politics.

For Fr Robin Rai, parish at Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral, the Church and Christians are at work every day trying to end the "divisions and hatred among people fomented by political parties themselves. We are praying for an end to the impasse. Only reconciliation among the factions can allow the country to start again."

For decades, Catholic and Protestant communities have been involved in charity work and educational activities (from primary school to university), taking on a major role in Nepali society, especially in the poorest regions of the country.

With greater religious freedom in the last few years, the number of Christians has gone up compared to before. For centuries under the monarchy, religions other than Hinduism were banned.

According to the 2011 census, Catholic and Protestants represent 1.5 per cent of the population, up from 0.5 per cent in 2006. In six years, the number of Catholic rose from 4,000 to 10,000.

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