10/07/2014, 00.00
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Dashain Festival, a moment of solidarity and harmony for all the religions of Nepal

by Christopher Sharma
Christians, newly converted Catholics, Buddhists and Muslims have participated in the most important Hindu festival in the country, dedicated to the goddess Durga. In Nepal mixed families are becoming more numerous and often honor together the various religious celebrations. A Hindu speaks of his newly converted son: "We have not interfered with his faith, we are happy he is Catholic."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - In order to witness to the solidarity that must exist between different religions, Christians, newly converted Catholics, Buddhists and Muslims of Nepal celebrated together with fellow citizens, the annual Hindu festival of Dashain, which ends today. President Rambaran Yadav, said this "leads to social harmony", given the  " unique and special inter-religious character of Nepal, thanks to the many mixed marriage families".

This is the case of Riken Chhetri, a young Catholic who recently received the sacrament of Baptism, in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu. "Even though my parents are Hindu - he tells AsiaNews - they left me convert and are happy for me. I was never forced to follow the Hindu celebrations: I wanted to celebrate Dashain with them".

Hira Bahadur, confirms his son's words: "We have not interfered with the faith of our son and we are happy he is Catholic. Even my youngest daughter is interested in Catholicism, and we'll leave her to make her own choice".

Tina Pradhan, a recent convert to Catholicism, comes from an even more "mixed" family than that of Riken. "Some are Catholic - she tells AsiaNews - other Christians, Hindus and Buddhists. But we are here to celebrate Dashain, like all the other holidays, we celebrate them together."

Dashain is Nepal's longest and most important festival. Even Nepalis leaving abroad try to get home to join their family for the 15-days celebration. Government offices, many businesses, schools and universities are closed for this period. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and the birth of the goddess Durga, created to fight the demon Mahishasura and stop his reign of terror in the world of god and man. The first nine days of Dashain symbolise the struggle between the two. According to tradition, on the eighth and ninth day the fresh blood of animals is sacrificed, a gift to appease the goddess engaged in the final stages of her battle.


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