Hindus, Buddhists join Year of Faith procession
The participants who took their time off work showed "great devotion" at a time of great tension in Nepal because of the recent elections.
Thousands of Hindus and Buddhists joined Catholics in Christ the King procession organised in Kathmandu on Saturday to mark the closing of the Year of Faith.
Participants who took time off work showed "great devotion" at a time of great tension due to the recent elections to the Constituent Assembly.
Diocesan vicar Father Pius Perumana held aloft the Holy Euharist in an open car at the helm of procession. Priests, religious, lay people and non-Christians walked behind, from St Mary of the Assumption School to the church, reciting the Rosary and hymns, carrying candles, images of Jesus with passages from the Bible. Catholics from Kathmandu, Godavari and Lubhu Baniyatar attended the celebration.
"It was such a thrill to be in the Christ the King procession. For me, it was a time to glorify Jesus and strengthen my faith in God," said Soni Rana, a young 18-year-old Catholic woman from Baniyatar, a northern suburb of Kathmandu.
A year ago, she attended a service for the start of the Year of Faith. For her, this was a crucial time of prayer and reflection, as well as for her family and her friends.
After the fall of the monarchy in 2006, the Hindu kingdom became a secular democracy, which saw tolerance towards other religions. However, after Maoists came to power in 2008, several Hindu extremist groups attacked religious minorities. The most serious was carried out against Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral on May 23, 2009, which left two people dead.
Although proselytising is banned, the government made Christmas a national holiday in 2012 to boost tourism. Christians were allowed to exhibit sacred images and ornaments in stores and outside churches and homes and to organise processions.
This visibility has prompted many non-Christians to seek baptism. Currently, there are 10,000 Catholics in Nepal, 4,000 more than in 2006, the year the state became secular.