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Tag: Christmas

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Christmas, New Year lift restaurant business

Restaurants in the capital have been doing good business for the past couple of weeks thanks to the growing number of Nepalis celebrating Christmas and English New Year.

According to restaurateurs, daily sales have jumped by as much as 40 percent compared to sales figures of few weeks ago.

“We have been receiving good number of customers since a fortnight. Sales is also good,” Bijaya Khatiwada, proprietor of Rose Merry Kitchen Restaurant at Thamel, said. “Though sale figures is better compared to last year, number of footfall is low because of campaign against drunk-driving.” He said customers do not stay in restaurants till late night as they don´t want to be arrested on drunk-driving.

KFC, a multi-national eatery chain, at Durbar Marg also recorded good business over the past two weeks. “Our sales during Chirstmas-New Year period was up 25 percent compared to normal daily sales,” an official at KFC said. “But sales figures were down 50 percent when compared to same season last year.” The official also said number of foreigner visiting KFC was down during Christmas and New Year.

Chapter 9 Restaurant of Jhamsikhel also witnessed 20 percent growth in sales this month. “It is natural for the business to go up during Christmas and New Year. This growth, however, doesn´t last long,” Ujjwal Dhakal, manager of Chapter 9, told Republica. He said the campaign against drunk-driving has affected restaurant business so much that it would take some time for the business to return to normalcy.

Plaza Kitchen Restaurant at Putalisadak, however, didn´t see good business during Christmas-New Year period. “I think we didn´t get good business because of our location. To get good business, restaurants should be located in city center,” he added.

Restaurateurs fear their business will go down once the celebrations are over. They also urged the government to conduct campaign against drunk-driving in a systematic manner.

“We are not against the campaign launched by the government,” Tejendra Shrestha, president of Restaurant and Bar Association of Nepal (REBAN), said, adding, “We only want the government to limit alcohol intake instead of arresting everyone who consumes alcohol.”

source: republica, 02 Jan 2013

Christmas today

The Christian community in Nepal is celebrating their greatest festival to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ tomorrow.

Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25 every year, is a time for rejoicing and recalling Christ’s message of love‚ compassion‚ forgiveness and unity among people.

Christians gather at churches to exchange greetings and offer prayers across the country on the day. They also go to hotels and restaurants and enjoy delicious food and drinks to mark the day. The government has declared a public holiday on the occasion. According to the 2011 census report, about three lakh of the country’s total 26.5 million are Christians.

On the occasion, President Ram Baran Yadav has extended wishes to all Christians people at home and abroad for peace, happiness and good health. “I believe celebrating Chirstmas will strengthen the trust and unity among the citizens and help build a better Nepal,” he said in a press statement today.

Marketplaces in Thamel, Durbar Marg, Basantapur, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur have been decked with electric lights and Christmas trees for the festival. The non-Christian communities also celebrate Christmas with great enthusiasm in Nepal where people from different religions have lived for long in harmony, respecting each other’s religion and participating in each other’s festivals and festivities.

source: Himalayan Times, 24 DEC 2013

The emerging trend of celebrating Christmas

When malls and restaurants are decorated with strings of electric lights, figurines of Santa Claus, and colorfully embellished X-mas trees, one simply knows Christmas is here. Unlike in the past, when Christians were the basic celebrators of this festival, Christmas, now, seems to appeal to a larger audience in Nepal, resulting into a widespread celebration.

“In the past, commercial celebration of Christmas was limited within restaurants, which were feasible only to the wealthy population. However, with malls aggrandizing the celebration of Christmas through free concerts, gift hampers and artificial snow fall, Christmas now seems to be a piece of cake for everyone,” opines Sandeep Hirachan, the Managing Director of United World Trade Center, Tripureshwar. The shopping center delighted many excited visitors by organizing a live (artificial) snowfall on Tuesday afternoon.

Similarly, the policy of Nepal government to declare public holiday on Christmas has also promoted the celebration of this festival. December 25 has now become an excuse for people to have family gatherings and outings. This is also perhaps one of the reasons for the surge in consumers in restaurants during Christmas.

“For me, Christmas is all about spending quality time with closed ones. On this day, I opt to visit restaurants as their ambience is jolly and full of lights,” says Akhil Vaidya, who is a Hindu by religion.

Apart from celebrations, Christmas has also been an opportunity for charitable organizations to raise funds for their projects. One of such organizations is Community Development Program Nepal (CDPN), which has been selling Christmas accessories at CTC Mall in Sundhara, Kathmandu.

“We will be using the sales profit to aid a school construction project in Baitadi,” informs Ramila Singh, Project Manager of CDPN.

However, the widespread culture of partying on the Christmas Eve has drawn concern amongst some individuals, who believe the notion of partying has overshadowed the actual significance of Christmas.

“Youngsters barely know that Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Christ. Instead, they consider Christmas to be a reason for partying, which rather promotes alcoholism,” says Hari Yadav, who is rather unhappy with the trend of restaurants organizing cocktail parties.

Despite having some drawbacks, the emerging trend of celebrating Christmas has become one of the indicators of religious tolerance in Nepal.

source: republica, 24 DEC 2013

Christmas brings Christ to Nepal

In the formerly Hindu nation of Nepal, religious tension and persecution still exist in rural areas. But Christmas is bringing interfaith celebration in the capital.

Since the government made Christmas a national holiday in 2011, December has become a festive time not only for the tiny Christian minority that makes up roughly 1.4 percent of the population, but also for Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, according to Asia News. In Kathmandu, businesses of all kinds are decorated for the holiday celebration, and cards of Jesus and Mary are popular in gift shops.

Some Hindus voluntarily helped decorate Kathmandu’s Cathedral of the Assumption. The Rev. Robin Rai told Asia News they are even “teaching young people Christmas carols to accompany the festivities.”

Voice of the Martyrs media development director Todd Nettleton said even though the government’s reasons for the national holiday were commercial, “it’s an opportunity for ministry. Because any time that we’re celebrating Christmas we have an opportunity to say, ‘Hey, do you know what Christmas is about?’”

“It’s a heartwarming thing,” he added.

Prior to becoming a secular democracy in 2006, Nepal was the only Hindu monarchy in the world. Secularization has allowed other religions to grow. Nettleton said the change meant government persecution of Christians lessened, but Christians still face family and village pressure, especially in rural areas.

At times Hindu extremists still target churches. In May 2009, a member of the Nepal Defence Army planted a bomb that killed two people and injured 13 at a Kathmandu cathedral, Asia News said. Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic charity, reported that Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims all met together to pray following that attack.

In November, Morning Star News reported a Hindu who had asked for prayer killed a Christian church elder, Debalal Sardar, by striking him with a rod and then slitting his throat and other parts of his body.

Bishop Narayan Sharma, senior leader of Gospel for Asia’s work in Nepal, told Morning Star News, “It was a purely anti-Christian act. … The attacker told his wife that he was going to kill more Christians after he killed Debalal.”

The Nepali constitution protects the right to practice religion, but not absolute freedom. Proselytizing is banned and punishable, according to the 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom. Nettleton said that ban presents a challenge for Christian non-governmental organizations that are allowed to work in Nepal.

Source & References

Seymour, J. 2013. Christmas brings Christ to Nepal. WORLD, [online] 23 December. Available at: http://world.einnews.com/article/182313718/lc8uDc3cWtkd3oiz?n=1&code=mvuDCq3afBQpQzAd [Accessed: 24 Dec 2013].

Christmas Carols: The Nepali way

Christmas carols are more than Jingle Bells that most of us are familiar with. In Nepal, Christmas hymns sung during carolling are both in English and Nepali. The Christians of Nepal love to sing Nepali songs and dance to it while reaching out to the people.

The Christian community all over the world celebrate December 25 as the Christmas Day. The celebration starts with commemoration of the Christ’s arrival — who as the scripture says was born for the people and their salvation. And it is done through carol singing. Numerous people in a group sing songs about His birth and why Christ was born as a part of Christmas carols.

The diversity

As per the Bible, Christ was born in a shed in Bethlehem and the angels sang to the shepherds resting near the shed, about this good news. This tradition of singing the news to others continue in carol singing. Nepal is no exception where many church here go for carol singing days before December 25.

“We have 10 zones and we sing carols in each zone. Families of a particular zone and carol goers gather at one place. We sing to tell everyone that our Saviour is coming,” informs Father Robin Rai of a Roman Catholic church in Dhobighat — The Assumption Church.

Nepali songs like Gloria, Sundar Raat Pabitra Raat, Euta Tara and some English hymns such as Joy To The World, Long Time Ago In Bethlehem, O Come All Ye Faithful are catered which are accompanied by musical instruments like harmonium and guitar.

With two weeks of practice, carolling usually embarks on December 10 in The Assumption Church family. As per Augustine Lepcha from the same church, who is also a musician and a composer of Christmas hymns, “Christmas carols are sung before Christmas and also after Christmas to.”

The rituals of carol singing also include praying and Bible reading. There is dance performance as well.

On the other hand, Koinonia Patan Church, a Portestant church, resonates with Ghintang Tang Tang Ghintang, Herana Aakashma, Lagdacha Malai, Bhedi Goth during carolling. You can hear these numbers in other Protestant church like Ananta Shalam Church in Saatdobato and Living Baptist Church in Nakhipot too.

As per Pastor Mangal Man Maharjan of Koinonia Patan Church, their carol singing started on December 7 this time. And they have been “singing about Jesus’ birth while exchanging good wishes”. People in groups visit to Christian households for carolling which is done till Christmas or a few days before. And the households in return offer the singers with fruits or tea or money.

Singing similar songs, people like Amos Tamang of Ananta Shalom Church go for carolling to the nearby houses during the evening while they sing carols in places like Godavari in the afternoon.

Nepali hymns

“We are Nepali and we aim to to introduce Christ to Nepali people in Nepali style,” shares Rai. And this is why they prefer Nepali hymns more in carolling though they sing “little bit of English hymns” as well.

Initially, there were English hymns only.”They were later translated in Nepali like Jaun Chheuma Ramaudei (O Come All Ye Faithful ). But it was much later that we started to create our own Nepal hymns which include Christmas songs,” says Rai.

Even the Roman Catholic Church with a history of about 50 years in Nepal used to sing “Nepali hymns including Christmas hymns composed in Darjeeling” in the initial days as per Lepcha.

“We still sing those songs but we have started to create our own Nepali hymns including Christmas carols,” Lepcha adds. Along with him, artistes like Purna Nepali have composed those hymns.

Singing translated Nepali carols also prevail in Protestant church and Maharjan remarks, “What is fun than to sing our own Nepali songs? After all we are spreading the news to Nepali people — they understand better when sung in Nepali.” Their composers include Dibya Khaling, Pastor Loknath Manen and Kiran Pradhan to name a few.

Lyrics and composition

There are different kinds of Christmas songs. The devotional songs in both slow and peppy pattern are about “Christ was born…where he was born…and why was he born”. In addition, Maharjan also points out, “Christmas songs are also about your feeling and experience or stories related to Jesus’ coming.”

However, Christmas should not be about “baby Jesus” as per Manen who doesn’t celebrate Christmas anymore. “Our Christmas celebration is more focused on baby Jesus as well as things like Santa Clause and some trees that are not mentioned in the Bible. Instead, Christmas is all about Christ the King, who was born to wash away our sins and it is an important fact.” Hence, a carol should have a deeper meaning and should depict the significance of Christ’s arrival.

Sharing about the composition of Nepali carols, he further informs, “They are seasonal songs. Some Nepali hymns have Western musical arrangement but nowadays folk based songs are getting popular. When it comes to dance and fun, Nepali songs are the best.”

Also, the kind of compositions depend on the lyrics. There are old songs while new songs are up and adding to the list. Some artistes like Lepcha and Jyoti Sunuwar have even come up with their Christmas albums. As per Tamang who is a music arranger by profession, “We make our own songs as well as learn new songs composed by other church and sing them too.”

source: Himalayan Times, 20 DEC 2013

Christmas items start selling like hot cakes

With less than two weeks remaining for Christmas to arrive, the sale of various decorative and gift items for the festive season has gone up in Kathmandu Valley.

Many gift shops have started displaying Christmas trees, greeting cards, various crafts and other decorative items.

Archies Gallery at Khichapokhari said it has recently brought a new variety of decorative items and gift items for the Christmas season. Anil Jalan, proprietor of the gallery, said the sales have started picking up. “The demand for decorative items like Christmas trees and Santa Claus caps from restaurants, beauty parlours and stationery shops has been increasing.” Christmas trees available in the market range from Rs 1,250 to Rs 4,000, depending on the size, which starts from 1 ft and reaches up to 10 ft.

However, small models of the trees are available at Rs 50 onwards. Similarly, bells, snowmen, drums and stockings are available for Rs 50 onwards, while Santa dresses begin from Rs 325. Santa caps are the most sought after items in the market. Bikash Maharjan, proprietor of Promise Stationary at Lazimpat, said “ Christmas caps, which range from Rs 60 to Rs 125 are in high demand. People are also fast buying another decorative item, stars, which come in various colours like red, white, yellow and green.” The price of the stars ranges from Rs 100 to Rs 150.

The price of the items are, however, higher as compared to the price for the same items last year. “The price of these gifts items increased by 5-10 percent as we have to import the products from China by paying the US dollar, which has become stronger than the Nepali rupee in recent months,” said Prakash Shahi, proprietor of My Archies Gift and Cards at New Road. Apart from the imported items, there are some local handicraft items for the festival, which are luring customers. Dhukuti, a local handicraft gift shop at Kupondole in Lalitpur, has in store various hand-made items that target Christmas shoppers. Manager at Dhukuti Sanjeev Poudel said the number of sustomers thronging his shops is going up by the day.

According to him, the culture of giving locally-made items as Christmas presents is increasing. Poudel said various Christmas items such as ornaments, Santa dresses, snowmen, hanging balls made of felt, metal crafts and glasses are available in his shop.

source: ekantipur, 14 DEC 2013