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    » 12/20/2012, 00.00


    Christmas in Nepal: for the first time there are no threats of attacks

    Kalpit Parajuli

    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 parishes.

    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 cars.

    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.


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    See also

    27/12/2014 NEPAL
    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".

    27/12/2012 NEPAL
    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.

    10/12/2012 NEPAL
    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.

    03/01/2008 NEPAL
    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.

    28/12/2015 NEPAL
    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.

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