12/23/2011, 00.00
NEPAL
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Christmas in Kathmandu without the risk of attacks

by Kalpit Parajuli
In the capital, churches, shops and homes are festively decorated for the Christmas celebrations. The risk of attacks by extremist groups significantly lower. Hindu converted to Catholicism, says: "I attended the Mass in the cathedral without shame along with my daughters. Now everybody knows I'm Catholic. "
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepali Christians await Christmas, for the first time without the risk of attacks. AsiaNews sources say that churches, homes, hotels and shops in Kathmandu are decorated to the nines this year, all Nepalese want to celebrate Christmas. Young Catholics have organized choruses of Christmas carols at home for Christian families. They say that they have refused many offers because of the high demand.

Mina Ghimire, 40, a Hindu convert to Christianity stresses that "in the past I was very afraid to go to church, especially at Christmas time, because of the risk of attacks and threats by Hindu extremists." "For years - she says - I have avoided talking about my conversion to friends and relatives. Today our society is changing, the population of Hindus respect us. These days I attended Mass in the cathedral without shame along with my daughters. Now everybody knows I'm Catholic. "

In recent years, Nepal has recorded several murders and attacks against religious minorities, usually at the hands of Hindu extremists. In 2008, gunmen belonging to a lunatic fringe kill shot Fr. Prakah John, a Jesuit priest. On 26 April 2008, the NDA detonated a bomb inside the mosque Birantnagar, killing two people. On May 23, 2009, the same group, place a bomb in the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of Kathmandu. The toll was two dead and 13 wounded. To the attacks by terrorist groups is added the threat of anti-conversion laws, proposed by some conservative parties, which if approved will be included in the new penal code under consideration in parliament together with the constitution.

After the fall of the Hindu monarchy in 2006, to boost tourism, the government has decided to make Christmas a national holiday. This has enabled Christians to display images and sacred decorations in the stores and outside churches and homes. To date over there are 10 thousand Catholics, 4 thousand more than the 6 thousand in 2006, the year of the proclamation of the secular state.

Fr. Robin Rai, pastor of the Cathedral of Kathmandu says that the church will be safe guarded by groups of volunteers and police officers throughout the Christmas period. "The controls - he says - will not stop our activities, which will go ahead without fear." He stresses that the midnight mass is attended by hundreds of people, among them many non-Christians.

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