Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nepal: Christians , Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims prepare for Christmas together

Preparations for Christmas are being transformed into an opportunity for encounter and reconciliation among Christians, Hindus and other religions living in Nepal. 

On the streets of Kathmandu, hotels, restaurants, shops and homes are already decorated for Christmas. 

In the souvenir shops among the best-selling greeting cards are those with the image of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. 

Bookshops are displaying Bibles and books on Christianity.

Fr. Robin Rai , pastor of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu , said that dozens of volunteers , Christians and Hindus, have worked together to decorate the church. The priest says that the parish is "teaching young people Christmas carols to accompany the festivities." 

As every year the Christmas celebrations are expected to attract thousands of people, which confirms the growth of Christianity in Nepal after years of Hindu monarchy and discrimination against Christians . Bhim Raim, a catechist, explains that young catechumens who are preparing for baptism are the "most active".

After the fall of the monarchy in 2006, to revive tourism, the government decided in 2011 to make Christmas a national holiday. This has allowed Christians to expose images and sacred ornaments in stores and outside churches and homes. Catholics in the country are over 10 thousand, 4 thousand to 6 thousand more than in 2006, the year the secular state was declared.

In these two years, Christmas has become a time of celebration for other religious groups such as Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. For the evening of December 25 , the five-star hotel Annapurna (managed in the past by the sister of the monarch Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah ) has organized a dinner for diplomats and personalities from the worlds of politics and entertainment. 

The title of the event is 'Cake Mixing Ceremony " and asks each participant to make a cake to share with others. Pastry chef Situ Sthapit says that "the organizers invited people of different faiths and Christmas is a perfect opportunity for reconciliation". 

Guests will include Thai Ambassador to Nepal Kanthong Unakul , and famous Nepali actress Reecha Sharma.

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