Year of Faith: thousands of Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists join Christ the King procession
Nov. 25, 2013
Thousands of Nepali Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists on Saturday took part in Christ the King procession organised by the Catholic Church in Kathmandu to mark the closing of the Year of Faith, which ended with a solemn Mass in St Peter's Square. Participants, who took time off work, showed "great devotion", local sources said, at a time of great tension due to the recent elections to the Constituent Assembly. Priests, religious, lay people and non-Christians walked 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.
For the occasion, the local church used an open car that carried the diocesan vicar, Fr Pius Perumana, dressed in solemn garments, at the helm of procession. Catholics from Kathmandu and also Godavari and Lubhu Baniyatar attended the celebration, walking in the procession with flags and banners. "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," Soni Rana, a young 18-year-old Catholic woman from Baniyatar (a northern suburb of Kathmandu), told AsiaNews. 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, Nepal saw a gradual opening to religions, which had once been persecuted.
After Maoists came to power (2008), several Hindu extremist groups attacked religious minorities. The most serious was carried out against Kathmandu's Assumption Cathedral on 23 May 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 show their sacred images and ornaments in stores and outside of 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.
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