A church in Rangsi in Rolpa district pictured last week. Churches mushroomed in the district after the Maoist armed insurgency. A local school teacher said people used to believe in shamans. Now they have become Christians and they believe in Prabhu’s powers. “They were superstitious before, they are superstitious now,” he said. Photo: Dinesh Subedi/Republica
ROLPA, Jan 15: Tek Bahadur Gharti became a Christian ‘after his family members got eaten by witches a few years ago’. If he had not converted, he wouldn’t be alive today, according to the locals of Rangsi village in Rolpa district.
“I do not go to the health post when I fall ill. I go to church,” 80-year-old Gharti informed.
Over five dozen churches are in operation in Rolpa currently. And there is no dearth of people like Gharti who rush to church for help when they fall sick. According to health post workers, patients come to them when it is too late because they go to the church first.
“There are health posts in the village, but we get cured only when we go to the church. We have experienced this so clearly,” maintains Gharti, who converted to Christianity 28 years ago. “I suggest everyone surrender to the lord instead of going to hospital.”
There are not enough schools around, but the number of church buildings in the villages keeps rising. The churches offer their services, and if a patient dies, it is believed God wanted that.
“Prabhu is everything. If they are to be cured, they are cured in church. If anyone dies, that is simply Prabhu’s will,” Gharti stated.
There used to be very few churches in Rolpa. Conversion was not very common. Things gradually changed after the Maoist armed insurgency. According to Gharti, churches mushroomed after the peace process began. “Now we have many churches here and Prabhu cares for people’s misery.”
Nara Bahadur Dangi, a health assistant at Rangsi, feels that people turning to the churches even when medical help is urgent is just pathetic.
“The villagers are very naïve. Even when they are in immediate need of a doctor, they go to the church instead,” he said.
There are five doctors at the district hospital and there is a good road to get there. However, more patients are to be seen at the churches than at the hospital.
“If you want to talk about Rangsi village, Christianity is all the craze. People are converting in other parts of Rolpa also,” Dangi said.
Interestingly, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun is also from Rangsi village.
A local school teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity said people used to believe in shamans. Now they have become Christians and they believe in Prabhu’s powers. “There is no fundamental difference. They were superstitious before, they are superstitious now,” he said. He added that pastors at the churches encourage the villagers to seek refuge in Prabhu whenever they are in any kind of problem. And people heed the advice.
However, Tirtha Mali Gharti, who converted to Christianity a few years ago, said it is patients with chronic diseases who finally come to churches after they find no remedy at the hospital. “If you worship Prabhu with a true heart, all your misery will be wiped out. Your deteriorating condition improves. We pray and prayer has power,” she said. “Those who have faith are cured, and those who take time finding faith are cured at a similar pace.”
She said foreigners come from different countries to guide the newly converted. “They come with interpreters as we cannot understand their language,” she said.
There are many villagers in Rolpa who proudly contribute their labor to build churches. That is way, they become entitled to Prabhu’s blessings, they say. According to Jagu Gharti, another Ropla local, few people in the district put on Tika during Dashain in recent years. “They are not allowed to put on tika. The change is clearly felt during Dashain.”