Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In Nepal Christmas has become a "collective" festivity with Hindus and Buddhists joining Catholics and other Christians in celebrating 25 December.
Unlike previous years, people of other faiths have not only bought into the "consumer" side the celebration, but have also honoured the birth of Christ by participating in church Masses across the country.
On Christmas Night, hundreds of people filled the pews of Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral, with many others standing in order to attend mass. "In the eyes of God, no one is abandoned and discriminated against. The grace of the Lord is open to anyone who wants to live in accordance with God's life," parish priest Fr Robin Rai said during the homily.
According to sociologist Manohar Sharma, this very openness towards others attracts the faithful of other religions to Christianity.
"Hinduism," he told AsiaNews, "is full of discriminatory practices. Hindus and Buddhists celebrate their festivals in a very ostentatious way, even though most of them cannot afford it. In Nepal, thousands of people are interested in Christianity because it is far from the discrimination that prevails among Hindus."
Indeed, the country's last census indicates that the Christian population is growing. According K.B. Rokaya, a Protestant clergyman, about 7,000 new churches have opened up across the country.
In Nepal, 25 December became a national holiday in 2008. Since then, Christians have been able to exhibit images and sacred decorations in stores, outside churches and homes.