ICC Note: Christians in Nepal have protested against the government’s recent decision to remove Christmas from the calendar of national holidays.
Many Christians in Nepal feel that this action was taken at the behest of radical Hindu forces in Nepal who would like to see the country become officially a Hindu nation.
According to Christians, Nepal has recognized 83 festivals for Hindus and other religious groups, but has not recognized a single holiday for Christians.
Nepal(Asia News) – The Government of Nepal has decided to remove Christmas from the calendar of national celebrations, sparking protests from Christians who want its immediate reinstatement.
Speaking to Asia News, Home Affairs Shakti Basnet said, “We are forced to take such a decision not to hurt Christians but to control the rising number of public holidays.” At the same time, “we are ready to provide leave for Christians working for the government.”
For Rev CB Gahatraj, secretary general of the National Federation of Christians,”Christians do not just work for the government. If Christmas is not a national holiday, the workers of the private sector will not be able to celebrate it. The Government recognizes 83 festivities for Hindus and other communities, but none for Christians.”Christmas was recognized as a national holiday eight years ago, when Nepal became a secular state.
Since then, the feast day of the birth of Jesus has attracted members of other religious communities. This year the celebration took on a special significance, bringing hope to the people afflicted by India’s embargo.
Rev Gahatraj is concerned that Nepali authorities have been “influenced by anti-Christian tendencies. The government is trying to ignore us and suppress our rights.”Yesterday, a group of Christian leaders met to challenge the decision and drafted a petition to deliver to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and to the Home Affairs minister.
They are not alone. The Inter-religious Council-Nepal, and other interfaith groups and activist organizations back the Christian community.
Pray that the Government will rescind this decision!