Picture Courtesy: Sumit Shrestha
With the declaration of secularism in Nepal, celebration of festivals of disparate religions have spread widely throughout the country. Not too long ago, people in Nepal only used to celebrate certain festivals related to the Hindu religion. However, in this modern era, festivals from all over the world are coming into practice in our country. One of the most popular examples is “Christmas”.
Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December every year. It is supposed to be the day when the Jesus Christ, "Son of the God" was born. Initially, it was followed and celebrated only by the Christians. However, with the ever changing times and traditions in the current generation, Christmas is celebrated by millions of people around the globe regardless of their religion.
The declaration of secularism in Nepal gave birth to countless different religion and traditions being introduced in the country. Just like Nepal, there are hundreds of other countries where Christmas is merrily being celebrated. Unfortunately, some countries that strongly oppose Christians and their traditions, have banned the celebration of Christmas and altogether the religion itself.
In Saudi Arabia, Christmas is opposed. It's not a big surprise as Saudi Arabia is governed strictly by the people following Islamic religion. Other religions are not given much priority and are suppressed as far as possible. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Oraifi, a Saudi scholar said, “Muslims are not allowed to greet non-Muslims on their religious occasions like Christmas”. They wrote quoting the scholar directly that “If they celebrate the birth of God’s son and you greet them…it means you endorse their faith.” North Korea is also pretty much hostile towards the celebration of Christmas. Tajikistan, Somalia and Brunei are the three countries that have banned the celebration of Christmas this year. This year in Tajikistan Christmas trees and giving gifts in schools or workplace were strictly prohibited. They had banned the Russia's version of Santa Claus from TV and other media on 2013. The Sultan of Brunei has told residents of his nation that those who chose to celebrate Christmas could face up to five years in jail. But non Muslims are allowed to celebrate Christmas in their own communities but are not supposed to discuss their celebration with the Muslim (i.e 65% of its population).
Even after being declared a secular state, Nepalese people still took a few years getting used to all the different religions and festivals. However, as we can see now, the number of people celebrating Christmas has drastically increased and will keep on increasing as the years go by. So, to conclude, even though many people enjoy celebrating a "Foreign" festival, it is important that we give our local and cultural festivals more importance. We are Nepali and we must always prioritize our religion and traditions.