Kathmandu ( AsiaNews) - Hundreds of people, Christians and Hindus together, they followed the body of the Catholic Rajendra Rai to the place of his cremation. The funeral rites later turned into a large peaceful demonstration, calling on the authorities to grant Christians the land needed to create a cemetery. The issue has been going on for some time, and even sparked violent protests in the past.
Rai's funeral - he was an official of the local Caritas who died at age 49 due to heart problems - has brought the issue once again to the fore. After the funeral in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, the interfaith procession followed the hearse to the Bagmati river: here Hindus cremate the bodies of their loved ones. Gyan Rai, brother of the deceased, told AsiaNews: "Although we are sad for the loss, it is comforting and nice to see this great mass of people at the funeral. Hopefully the government will listen to us".
Pradip, Hindu, continues: " Nepal has several religious groups and is now a secular state: all faiths should have the same rights and the same opportunities. The government should immediately grant the land to the Christians. If they are not free and happy, then neither are the Hindus, Christians are citizens of this country, equal to all others". Binod Pahadi, also Hindu, says : "We are with the Christians and we will support with their demands. The government cannot simply ignore us".
The debate over burial sites for the Christian minority and tribal Kirlti (who will not cremate their dead ) has been ongoing for decades. The majority of Hindu tradition cremate their dead and do not understand the needs of minorities to bury their dead, and hinders such custom . Until now, Christians and tribal land bought at his own expense that are often seized or desecrated . Spaces are sometimes inadequate : in a tomb of a few meters can also be buried 10 dead.