02/13/2013, 00.00
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Hindus dedicate St Valentine's Day to the pope

Surprised by Benedict XVI's resignation, young couples exchange papal pictures and quotes in lieu of flowers. For Nepalis, the Holy Father is an example of love, sacrifice and spiritual strength.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Moved by news reports that the pope had resigned, Nepalis, Christians and non-Christians alike, have begun exchanging pictures and quotes from Benedict XVI in lieu of red roses and hearts as a way to dedicate this St Valentine's to him.

Shilpa Sheresta owns a flower shop in the heart of the Nepali capital. "After the pope's retirement was announced, people began asking for pictures of the Holy Father rather than the usual St Valentine's gifts," she explained.

Another shop owner in Kathmandu, Nikita Pradhan, was surprised by the number of "young people, of every faith, asking for gift packages that included a quote or a picture of Benedict XVI. To deal with the demand, we had cards printed with the pope's picture but quickly ran out. We ordered more, but we'll probably run out by St Valentine's."

According to Kishor Khadka, the pope was a great example of love, sacrifice and spiritual strength. "For this reason, I am going to give my fiancée a picture of Benedict XVI as a symbol of affection and unity," said the young Hindu man.

Although Christians represents little more than 1 per cent of the population, they have become (both Catholics and Protestants) an important point of reference in the fields of education and helping the poor.

At the same time, dissatisfaction with political leaders is pushing more and more Hindus and Buddhists to look with interest at this religion and its representatives, including the pope.

A recent survey showed that more and more people are buying Bibles and Gospels in the country. In fact, people pay closer attention to Benedict XVI's statements, especially those addressed to other religions. His message on the Day of peace in Assisi was widely circulated by non-Christian religious leaders as an example to follow.


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