Nepal, Hindu radicals target celebrity pop star for converting to Christianity
by Christopher Sharma
Anju Panta is one of the biggest stars in the country. After changing religion, she refused to perform at a Hindu festival: "My faith does not allow me to worship gods through song". Following an avalanche of criticism from media and civil society, she responds: "I have nothing to say to those who are criticizing me. May be it’s God’s plan and now I’m under the grace of God".

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) -  One of Nepal's most popular celebrities, singer and actress Anju Panta, says she converted to Christianity because she found "peace" in the Lord.  Moreover responding to the fierce criticism that her conversion has provoked from Hindu world and the vicious smear campaign launched by radicals she says, " I have nothing to say to those who are criticizing me. May be it's God's plan and now I'm under the grace of God .

The artist married Manoj Raj Siwakoti, another popular singer in Nepal, in 2002. The two have a daughter, but their marriage did not work: after the separation, about a year ago, her journey of self-discovery resulted in her conversion to Christianity. Her career is studded with success: in December 2009, during the thirteenth edition of Close Up Hits FM Music Award, she won almost all the awards including "Best Singer" and "Best Song of the Year." Her hits "Nabirse Timilai" is one of the most popular nationwide.

After the conversion her songwriting has also changed. Some time ago she recorded " Jaba Ma Prabhuko Bhayar Jiuna Thale Nirasama Shanti Paya," about the beginning of his new life in Christ and the peace that the Lord has given her in the storm. Because of her religious beliefs, on September 4 she refused to sing at a Hindu festival: "My faith does not allow me to worship the Hindu deity through song. Moreover, in those days I was not well. Though I was offered a large amount of money, I declined the engagement". This decision has unleashed the fury of radical Hindu groups, but also the admiration of the Christian community. 

In Nepal, 81% of the population is of Hindu faith: out of a population of 26.6 million people, Christians are little more than 150 thousand (0.4%), and about 7,200 are Catholics. As Fr. Silas Bogati, a priest in the capital explains to AsiaNews, "there are several challenges to become Christian in the country. Many obstacles and social humiliation may come." He advised all the Catholic community and others who want to become Catholic, "to be firm in God. God will give you the power to overcome such obstacles. Don't believe in any conspiracy. "

The example and witness of the singer has especially impressed the young people of Nepal. Apsara Nepali, Christian, is the mother of three Hindu children: "My children are reflecting on their faith, and they are thinking about converting. We are proud to have Anju Panta in our community, and hundreds of people are encouraged by her behavior. I'm sure that if the great singer lives a model life, she will be an example for all".