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Tag: Christmas in Kathmandu

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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 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