Nepal 'Cancels Christmas,' Sparking Outrage


Christians in Nepal say they're not happy with a government decision to remove Christmas from the official holiday calendar.

Christmas was formally recognized for the first time in the south Asian, majority-Hindu country in 2008 when its monarchy was abolished in favor of a secular state, according to the Telegraph.

For eight years, Christmas was officially celebrated in the Himalayan nation, but on April 4 the government announced it would trim the Christian holiday from its calendar.

“We are forced to take such a decision not to hurt Christians but to control the rising number of public holidays," said Shakti Basnet, Nepal's minister for Home Affairs, AsiaNews reports.

But Christians, who are a religious minority and represent less than two percent of all religiously-affiliated citizens in Nepal, say the government recognizes 83 public holidays related to Hinduism. 

There's an exception for Nepali government workers, but Christian groups say it's not enough.

"Christians do not just work for the government," Rev. C.B. Gahatraj, secretary general of the National Federation of Christians, told AsiaNews. "If Christmas is not a national holiday, the workers of the private sector will not be able to celebrate it."

A group of Christian leaders who oppose the change drafted a petition they plan to deliver to Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and the Home Affairs minister, AsiaNews reported.

Christian leaders say they'll organize protests if the government doesn't reconsider, according to Christianity Daily.

"The government is trying to curtail the religious rights and freedom of minority religious groups," Nepal's Federation of National Christian wrote in a statement. "The twisted definition of secularism provided in the new constitution is also a testimony to this. The decision to limit Christmas holiday only to civil servants has dealt a serious blow to all Nepali Christians."

Sources: AsiaNews, Christianity Daily, The Telegraph / Photo credit: Kris de Curtis/Wikimedia Commons

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