02/14/2012, 00.00
NEPAL

Nepal: boom in Valentine's Day cards inspired by Pope's message of peace

Kalpit Parajuli
Valentine's Day becomes an opportunity to recall sentiment for loved ones and instill hope for the future. Manufacturers of gift cards stress the demand for gifts with phrases and slogans in praise of peace, dialogue and solidarity between people.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Frightened by the climate of political and economic instability in the country, on St. Valentine’s day the Nepalese prefer postcards and greeting cards inspired by the Pope's message for the 45th World Day of Peace to the usual hearts and teddy bears.

Amrit Tuladhar, a producer of giftware and director of online shopping site muncha.com says that unlike in the past, this year people of all ages have visited the site, chosing cards with phrases about peace, dialogue and harmony as gifts to friends and acquaintances, many of whom live abroad. "Following the many requests - he says - about 50% of products manufactured by the company contain slogans inspired by the message of the Pope

Tuladhar believes the increase of migrant workers has increased the number of Internet users, by multiplying the sites, the types of online purchases, but also the emphasis on foreign countries. "For St. Valentine’s - he says - I had an average of 400 orders per day, mostly by and for people living abroad." He explains that in recent days several Nepalese employees in the Middle East have ordered postcards with slogans of peace and love for the Syrian people.

Ramesh Shrestha, employed by Christian bookstore Ekta Book House, says that for years the best selling book during Valentine's Day is the Bible. "In my shop - he says - customers often choose the Bible as sign of affection and love for their loved one." Josh B. Niraula, former director of Caritas Nepal, notes that "Valentine's Day is for Christians and non Christians a moment to remember with gratitude the people you love," he says. He adds that despite the sentimentality, the festival is an occasion to renew our faith in love.

In Nepal there are about 150 thousand Christians, with about 8 thousand Catholics. With the collapse of the Hindu monarchy in 2006 and the birth of a secular state, Christians have been granted greater freedom of worship. To promote tourism the government declared Christmas a national holiday, ensuring greater security around Christian religious buildings. This year, about 4 thousand people, of which at least half non-Christians, attended the midnight mass celebrated in the cathedral of Kathmandu.
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