KATHMANDU, June 26: Asmita Sitaula of Pepsicola was praying at the Jame Masjid in Ghantaghar on the eve of Ramjan, accompanied by her close relatives Srijana and Anu Oli.
Although a Hindu by faith, Asmita goes not only to the mosque but also to Buddhist monasteries and churches. “I am not here because of my religious faith. But when I reach temples, mosque, monasteries or churches, I find peace in me,” she told Republica.
Like Asmita, the new generation of Nepalis has started enjoying the cultural diversity that Nepal enjoys for long. Although some elements are trying to disrupt religious harmony persisting here, youths like Asmita are helping to strengthen it by participating in festivals and rituals of other religions.
Asmita, Srijana and Anu believe that these kinds of activities help promote goodwill and help drive society toward the positive direction.
Hasan Khan, 82, of Chabahil feels that social harmony has increased considerably as compared to the past. Khan's family, which moved to Chabahil from Bhaktapur some 150 years ago, is happy to live in the Hindu neighborhood. “We celebrate Dashain with Hindus. Hindu brothers come to our place to celebrate Eid,” said Khan.
Several generations of Rahat Khan, 78, have been living in Maitidevi. He was born in Kathmandu. “The society has changed a lot. But the goodwill among the people of various religious faiths has always remained strong,” he said.
It is not just in the capital city that social harmony among people has increased; it has increased even outside Kathmandu. Mainuddin Miya of Belba Rural Municipality in Parsa district invites his Hindu friends to his house during Eid every year and offers them Sewai, a special kind of dish eaten during Eid. “We have already received invitation for this Eid too,” said Bijaya Panjiyar of Belba. Panjiyar also invites Miya and his other Muslim friends to his house during Hindu festivals such as Holi.
Tekendra becomes Abdullah
Abdullah Bista of Maharajgunj used to be known as Tekendra Bista until sometime ago. A computer science graduate, Hindu Tekendra became Abdulla after he converted into a Muslim. “I lived as Hindu. Now I have embraced Islam. I have embraced this religion for mental peace and social uplift,” he said.
Santosh Koirala, 58, embraced Islam in 1999. He is currently known by the name of Abdulla Koirala. He respects all religions and has knowledge of both Hinduism and Islam.
“The goal of all religion is the same. Only the paths taken to reach that goal are different,” he says.
Eid or Eid Eid al-Adha, which is an important festival of Muslims, concluded on Sunday after the completion of Roja (daytime fasting everyday for a month) in the month of Ramjan. Although Eid was celebrated on Sunday itself in Saudi Arabia, China, the USA and different places of India, this festival is being celebrated across Nepal on Monday.