Nepal has dismissed Christmas as a national holiday from the public calendar because of a "need to control the rising number of public holidays." Christians in Nepal have protested the decision, and called upon the government to restore the festival, according to Asia News.
Christmas was first recognized as a national holiday in Nepal about eight years ago, when the country acquired a secular status. Since then, Christmas was a state-recognized holiday. But now the government plans to let only Christians take leave from government offices on Christmas.
Federation of National Christian, Nepal (FNCN) said: "The government's decision, which ridicules basic norms of democracy and secularism and hurts the sentiments of minority religious group, has drawn our serious attention."
"The government is trying to curtail the religious rights and freedom of minority religious groups. 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."
The FNCN also warned of protests, which include submitting memos to the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Law Minister Agni Kharel, and Home Minister Shakti Basnet, apart from organizing peaceful rallies around the country.
The head of National Federation of Christians, Rev. CB Gahatraj said, "Christians do not just work for the government. If Christmas is not a national holiday, the workers of the private sector will not be able to celebrate it. The Government recognizes 83 festivities for Hindus and other communities, but none for Christians."
Rev. Ghatraj was concerned if the government has been "influenced by anti-Christian tendencies."
"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.
Christian leaders came together in Nepal and have drafted a petition to hand in to top leaders of the country.
FNCN noted that it was a violation of national and international laws, and gave a message to all Christians and minority communities in Nepal and around the world to stand united and protest government's decision to remove Christmas as the national holiday.