Nepal Removes Christmas as a National Holiday, Christians Protest

Veronica Neffinger | iBelieve Contributor | Thursday, April 7, 2016

Nepal Removes Christmas as a National Holiday, Christians Protest

The Nepali government has removed Christmas as a national holiday, which has prompted protests from the country’s Christian population.

Christian Today reports that Nepal first recognized Christmas as a national holiday eight years ago when the country became a secular state. Now, however, Nepal has removed Christmas Day as a national holiday because the Nepali calendar is already too filled with the holidays of other religions.

Although the Nepali government says the decision to remove Christmas from the country’s list of national holidays is not meant as a slight to Christians, many are viewing it that way.

"We are forced to take such a decision not to hurt Christians, but to control the rising number of public holidays," minister for home affairs, Shakti Basnet, told Asia News.

The government told Christians that those who work for the government will still be given Christmas Day off as a holiday. Nepali Christians say that this doesn’t take into account all the Christians who work in the private sector, however.

"If Christmas is not a national holiday, the workers of the private sector will not be able to celebrate it. The government recognises 83 festivities for Hindus and other communities, but none for Christians,” stated Rev. CB Gahatraj, secretary general of the National Federation of Christians.

Gahatraj went on to express concern that Nepali officials had been “influenced by anti-Christian tendencies” in removing Christmas from the country’s list of national holidays.

Various faith groups are ready to challenge the government’s ruling.

“We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for our faith and the protection of freedom of worship. We strongly demand the restoration of the festivity and that the recent decision be dropped within a week. If the government fails to meet our request, we will protest across the country," said Gahatraj.

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Publication date: April 7, 2016