12/07/2015, 00.00
NEPAL
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Nepal, Christmas celebrations bring hope even under Indian embargo

by Christopher Sharma
Delhi has blocked goods exported to the country since 20 September. The population is suffering from severe shortages of food and basic necessities. The famous Hindu festival of Dashain and Diwali celebrated in a low key. Entrepreneurs expect industrial recovery due to Christmas sales. Many catechumens will be baptized on Christmas Eve.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Despite the Indian embargo which is causing enormous suffering and hardship to the Nepalese people, Christmas celebrations are awakening enthusiasm and excitement among Christians and believers of other religions. Private entrepreneurs, government officials, religious leaders and lay people believe that the enthusiasm for the preparations leading up to Christmas will bring hope to a people suffering  first because of the earthquake and now from the economic crisis induced by India’s embargo.

The unofficial blockade of goods exported to Nepal has been in force since September 20, that is, since the Kathmandu Parliament approved the nation’s first secular Constitution. The economic measures decided by the government of Delhi has already ruined the famous Hindu festival of Dashain and Diwali.

But now thousands of people believe that Christmas can revive the fortunes of the country. Pashupati Murarka, president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers and Commerce Industries (Fncci), told AsiaNews: "The industries are suffering daily losses in profits. India showed no compassion during the Hindu festival and industries were blocked. But now people are regaining hope and I am excited for Christmas. The celebrations could revive industrial production due to Christmas sales. " He adds: "We pray for the country to start and pull back from the brink of crisis”.

Father Ignatius, a Catholic priest, confirms the growing anticipation ahead of Christmas: "The joy and enthusiasm is no less than in previous years. We are all preparing to welcome the birth of Christ. There are still many problems and obstacles caused by the embargo, but the people are ready to overcome them. "

The streets of the country are filling up with decorations, as well as shops, hotels and private homes. The Bikalpa Art Centre in Bhaktapur has organized a Christmas market for 13 December. The event will also host art exhibitions and will be an opportunity for the exchange of gifts.

The night of Christmas is also the time when many catechumens begin their journey of Christian faith. Diken Tamang is one of them and is preparing to receive the sacrament of baptism. He says: "After two years of catechism, I learned a lot and I'm really ready for Baptism. I'm delighted for the fact that my friends and I will receive Communion and celebrate Christmas as Catholics for the first time".

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