» 12/20/2012, 00.00
Christmas in Nepal: for the first time there are no threats of attacks
Hundreds of people, including many non-Christians, are expected at the celebrations in the capital's cathedral. The Catholic community will also celebrate 24 new members. Crèches, Christmas trees and more will decorate church yards.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Catholic churches in Nepal are
busy with Christmas preparations. This year, the festivity will be celebrated
without the threat of Hindu fundamentalist groups. Sources told AsiaNews that hundreds of people are
expected at Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral, including Hindus, Buddhists and
other non-Christians. For the past few years, people of other faiths have
participated in the celebrations as well as other initiatives in various
Since the fall of the Hindu monarchy in 2006, the
government has made Christmas a national holiday to boost tourism. This has
enabled Christians to show their sacred images and decorations in stores and
outside churches and homes. At present, Catholics number 10,000, 4,000 more
than in 2006 when a secular state was declared.
Greater religious freedom has allowed more Catholics
to show their faith in public. Churches are showing their Christmas schedule,
dressing up their yards with crèches, trees and garlands where once stood armoured
Greater visibility has also attracted non-Catholics in
greater numbers. During Christmas Mass, Kathmandu's small Catholic community
will celebrate 24 new baptised members, young and old, mostly Hindus.
Fr Robin Rai, the cathedral's parish priest, called on
the faithful to bear witness to the real meaning of the birth of Jesus for
mankind. "I ask everyone to come to confession to strengthen your faith so that
you may spread the Christian message to the whole country," he said.
In recent years, Nepal was the scene of various
attacks, including murders, against religious minorities, usually by Hindu
extremists. The worst occurred on 23 May 2009 in the Catholic cathedral,
which left two people dead and 13 wounded.
Since 2011, the debate over the enforcement of
anti-conversion laws proposed by conservative parties has also come into the
picture. However, changes to the penal code have been stopped in
parliament by the need to complete the drafting of the new constitution.
For Kathmandu bishop, a country that welcomes Christ is a fairer country
Christian leaders celebrated Christmas with a prayer service. Political leaders and members of civil society groups were present at the event. Nepal's prime minister pledges respect for freedom of worship and protection for minorities in the new constitution. For the apostolic vicar, "Christ was Christ was born [. . .] to limit the differences among human beings [. . .] Likewise, we must reject violence, discrimination and terrorism".
Jesus' birth celebrated by Nepali Christians, Hindus and Buddhists
Thousands participate in Midnight Mass in Kathmandu's cathedral, including hundreds of Hindus and Buddhists. In many villages, local authorities join public processions, provide security and musical bands.
Christmas: Nepalis discover the joy of giving to the poor
For the past two years, the Christian festivity has been on the national calendar. This year, a number of initiatives in favour of the poor were organised. In the capital, the UN puts on a crafts fair to help marginalised women.
Christmas becoming a national holiday in the former Hindu kingdom
Parliament adds four more statutory holidays to the calendar in recognition of the country’s religious and ethnic minorities. Muslims, Buddhists and others react to the decision with satisfaction. Some see it as a first step.
Apostolic vicar to Nepal: May Christmas bring worldwide respect for minorities
Mgr Paul Simick celebrated Christmas Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu. Thousands of Catholics and others exchanged greetings across the country where Christmas has been a national holiday since 2007. “May this festival inspire all to implement the Constitution of Nepal for peaceful and prosperous Nepal strengthening the feelings of love and unity among all the Nepali people,” Nepal’s president said.
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": A Christmas gift to survive winter
As Iraqi troops advance in the Nineveh Plain and Mosul, a new wave of refugees could overshadow the fate of other refugees who found hospitality in Kurdistan. People need kerosene, winter clothes, aid for children, and money for rent. The campaign AsiaNews launched two years ago is more urgent than ever. Give up a superfluous gift to offer refugees an essential gift for life.
Pastor of Amadiya: Mosul’s Christian refugees, torn between emergency aid and the longing to return home
P. Samir Youssef
In a letter Fr. Samir Youssef describes the situation of refugees, exiled from their home for more than two years. They are closely following the offensive to retake Mosul, although their homes and churches "are for the most part" burned or destroyed. With the arrival of winter there is a serve lack of heating oil, clothes, food and money to pay for their children’s school bus. An appeal to continue to support the AsiaNews campaign.
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