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    » 10/07/2013, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Young Nepali Hindus becoming Catholic to stop discrimination

    Kalpit Parajuli

    More and more children and teenagers are converting to Catholicism "tired" of inequality and abuses by Hindus on the lower castes and the poor. Twenty young people attend catechism at Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral. "I want to become Catholic to spread the message of God's equality," said 12-year-old Diko.

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In Nepal, many young Hindus and Buddhists are choosing to become Catholic because of deep-seated inequality and discrimination. "I saw with my own eyes whole groups prohibited from entering Hindu temples just because they were from the lower castes," Diko Tamang, 12, told AsiaNew. "These people could not offer prayers; it is an unforgivable discrimination." From a Hindu family, Diko attends catechism at Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral, along with a group of some 20 boys and girls.

    "In my opinion," he said, "there should be no discrimination of any kind in a religion. In Christianity, there are none. In all castes and ethnic groups, each person is treated the same way. This is what I like and what inspired me to become Catholic. When I grow up I want to be able to spread the message of God's equality in our society."

    Rita Maharjan, 18, also goes catechism with Diko. "I came here," she told AsiaNews, at the invitation of my sister, who is Catholic. For a long time, she had serious health problems, paralysed in the legs, unable to walk. We spent a lot of money to treat her. One day one of her friends encouraged her to go to church and be blessed by the priest. She did, and a few weeks later she was healed. When I tell this, a lot of people do not believe me, but it is true and I can testify to God's power and grace on my sister. I want to become Catholic, tell people about my experience and feel the grace of the Lord."

    Nepal is home to about 150,000 Christians, including 8,000 Catholics. Before the fall of the monarchy (2006), Hinduism was the state religion, affecting the lives of every citizen. Following the proclamation of a secular state, religious freedom was guaranteed; yet minorities, especially Christians, are still subjected to harassment and threats from the majority community.

    Hindus are often involved in discrimination, violence against women and marginalisation of the poor. In turn, they, and sometimes Buddhists, accuse Catholics and other Christians of converting people by force or by offering them money.

    The kids attending catechism disagree. "When we came to the church no one asked us to convert. No one attempted to bribe us with something. We were interested and asked the priest to convert us, but he refused. He told us to ask our parents for permission and to study well what Christianity is."

    From his first lessons, Diko remembers "people who studied the doctrine's teachings for over two years to become Catholic. To be Christian and ask for baptism we have to study."

    Nepal's non-Christian population is steadily increasing. At the same time, the Catholic community is also steadily growing. This, experts say, depends on a long-term process that allows converts not to stray from their chosen course.

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    See also

    29/06/2013 NEPAL
    Drug addiction reaches crisis levels in Nepal with Hindus the most affected
    Almost a third of young people is taking drugs; an increase of 3 per cent compared to ten years ago. According to psychologists, weak educational institutions and unstable families are some of the causes of the problem.

    15/02/2011 NEPAL
    Nepali Christians celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day helping the poor and handing out Bibles
    The unplanned action provided an opportunity to show non-Christians God’s love. It brought together Protestants and Catholics from various Kathmandu’s parishes, and was appreciated by Hindus. For Komal Oli, a Hindu singer, “When you have faith in God, he teaches you to love the whole of humanity and this is present in all religions”.

    30/09/2009 NEPAL
    A Protestant church collapses: 25 dead. Catholics and Hindus in aid of victims
    The roof collapsed overnight while people slept in the building. Over 100 injured. Isu Jung Karki, president of the Nepal Christian Forum: "Our first concern is to rescue the wounded and treat them. Discussions on the causes of the incident will follow”.

    20/10/2011 NEPAL
    Nepalese Catholics grow. A challenge to the anti-conversion laws
    In 5 years the number has increased by 4 thousand. Boom in enrollments for catechism. Number of Hindus and Buddhists attending the Saturday mass equals the number of Catholics.

    02/04/2013 NEPAL
    Dozens of baptisms in Nepal during Easter Vigil, including many Hindus
    Easter celebrations were held in various parishes across the country. Twenty catechumens were baptised after two years of preparation. "We were confused and lived in superstition. Now our life has a new meaning," a young Hindu said.



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