Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Thousands of Nepali Christians celebrated Saint Valentine’s Day by helping the needy and handing out Bibles. The initiative by Kathmandu Christians, especially young people, was unplanned.
Selestina Gurung, a 19-year-old Catholic woman from Pokhara (220 kilometres from Kathmandu), came to the capital to buy Bibles to give to her friends. “For me, this Valentine’s Day is a day to spread God’s love to all men. Once I’m home, I am going to give these Bibles to people who care about me.”
Hindus also showed their appreciation for this different way of celebrating the festivity. “I like that Christians chose to celebrate God’s love on Saint Valentine’s day,” said Komal Oli, a popular Hindu singer. “When you have faith in God, he teaches you to love the whole of humanity and this is present in all religions: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.”
Nepal is home to some 150,000 Christians, about 8,000 Catholics. Since the collapse of the Hindu monarchy in 2006 and the establishment of a secular state, Christians have come to enjoy greater freedom of worship.
Despite persistent discrimination by Hindus, conversions are rising. According to Kathmandu’s catholic community, about 200 non-Catholics attend mass in the cathedral each Sunday.
The number of clergymen is also up. Last Saturday, Mgr Anthony Sharma, archbishop of Kathmandu, ordained three new priests of Indian origin in Maheshpur, 600 kilometres east of Kathmandu.
Since he was appointed apostolic vicar to Nepal in 2007, the prelate has ordained seven priests.