10/15/2007, 00.00
NEPAL
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The crucifix a sign of love, even for Hindus

by Kalpit Parajuli
The story of how in the only sate where Hinduism is the national religion, people respect and love the Crucifix. And of a tiny new born religious community that lives to serve their neighbours in Christ’s name.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – “One day – says brother Rakesh to AsiaNews – as I was travelling on the bus, sitting beside a Hindu with a tika [or tilaka: a mark on the forehead which indicates their religious beliefs]. After a short while he touched the crucifix which I wore around my neck, and then he bowed and kissed it with reverence.  This showed me the love that all peoples bear for Christ”.

Brother Zeno Rakesh was born in Shillong, India, and has been in Nepal for the last 5 years.  He is the only Catholic of a protestant family and he founded the Pius union of the poor servants of Christ, based in Kathmandu. “I always desired to be a priest – he tells – but then I felt that Christ had called me for a special vocation and so I wrote the Rules of this community.  Our charisma lies in our fourth vow [the three vows of Catholic religious are chastity, obedience and poverty] that is to dedicate ourselves freely to the needy”.  Brother Rakesh visits families of all faiths and shares in their problems and sufferings and helps them both materially and with his advice.

 “I am equally loved by the people from other religions too – continues the religious brother - So, sometimes I visit those people. I listen to their stories. The needy are not always poor. There are the rich who are in need too; to talk to, to pray with, and to be listened to. When they share in the name of God, they feel better”. The order dedicates its services free of charge and survives on the gifts of providence.  “Please – he urges – pray for us so that we may instruments of God”.

Nepal’s Catholics are circa 7 thousand out of  28 million inhabitants. But it is a religious country, where – continues Rakesh – people respect other beliefs and religions, a part from small localised conflicts.  He recalls another similar experience when Hindu security personnel deployed at Kathmandu airport, once, while security check, instead of checking, kissed his crucifix and took to his forehead.   Rakesh is the only member of the Pius Union, which celebrated its first anniversary on October 8th.  With him there is also a novice, also from India who is preparing to take vows.  The Pius Union also comes to the aid of poor students.

 

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