Christianity in Nepal

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The first record of a visit of a Christian missionary in Nepal dates back to 1628, when King Lakshminarasimha Malla received Portuguese Jesuit Father Juan Cabral graciously in the spring that year. He was awarded with a Tamra Patra, a copper plate, allowing him to preach Christianity. Protestant Christians initially came to Nepal primarily through the Nepalese who were living outside of Nepal during and prior to the Rana Regime. After the collapse of Ranas rule in Nepal in 1950, Nepali Christians living in India came in, along with some western missionaries. United Mission to Nepal, International Nepal Fellowship and others are a few earliest western mission agencies that came in and brought Christianity. According to the government data, Christian followers in Nepal accounts for about 1.4% of the population.[1]

History[edit]

The first record of a visit of a Christian missionary in Nepal dates back to 1628, when King Lakshminarasimha Malla received Portuguese Jesuit Father Juan Cabral graciously in the spring that year. He was awarded with a Tamra Patra, a copper plate, allowing him to preach Christianity. In the year 1661, Albert d'Orville, a Belgian, and Johann Grueber, an Austrian visited Nepal as missionaries but did not stay long. On 14th March 1703, six Capuchin Fathers traveled from Rome to Nepal. Only two arrived in Kathmandu on 21st February 1707 and settled in Kathmandu in the middle of 1715's winter. Over the next 54 years, they lived amongst the people of Bhaktapur and Patan in the Kathmandu valley. On 24th March 1760, Father Tranquillius made a small new church situated in Wotu Tole in Kathmandu under the title, The Assumption of Our Lady. After Prithvi Narayan Shah's conquest in 1769, the Capuchin fathers and 57 newly converted Newar Christians were exiled to Bettiah, India. Then till 1950, missionaries were disallowed in Nepal.

Scottish missionaries in Serampore and Darjeeling worked on Bible translations into Nepali, which were completed by Ganga Prasad Pradhan in 1932. Missionaries began to enter Nepal in the early 1950s, but engaged in development work, education and social service such as health care. Nepal was an officially Hindu state, and while conversion was never banned, proselytizing with the aim of converting was illegal and the Christian organizations who entered Nepal, including the Catholic church and the ecumenical United Mission to Nepal, followed a philosophy of witnessing by example rather than evangelizing. Some of the schools and hospitals founded by these groups, such as St. Xavier's school, Patan Hospital and Tansen Hospital, became highly regarded for their quality.[2] Missionary activities with the intent to convert Nepalis to Christianity increased with the advent of democracy and, in particular, after Nepal was named a secular state in 2008. Christmas is now an official government holiday and the "door is widely open for evangelism."[3]

By 2011, the small but growing community of Christians had emerged as a political pressure group, demanding that the government grant them land for cemeteries.[4] After a decade of extensive missionary action, the 2011 census found Christians at 1.45 percent of Nepal's population, almost triple the number in 2001.[5] The targeting of indigenous ethnic groups and low-income people with extensive proselytizing efforts, for instance as "unreached people,"[6][7][8] has been culturally controversial.[9][10]

State of the Church in Nepal[edit]

Until 1990, most of the church groups in Nepal were united with few exceptions like Assembly of God and Church of Christ. But the democratic changes of 1990 brought relative freedom to practice one's faith. This freedom contributed towards a proliferation of various denominations and groups. Missionaries began to enter the open doors in the decades since 1990.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Celebrating 45 Years in Nepal, Kathmandu: United Mission to Nepal, December 1999. Cloud, David W., Rome and the Bible, Port Huron (U. S. A.): Way of Life Literature, 2000.
  • Landon, Perceval, Nepal, Vol. 2, Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1976.
  • Lindell Jonathan, Nepal and The Gospel of God, New Delhi: United Mission to Nepal, 1979.
  • Messerschmidt, Donald A., The Moran of Kathmandu, Bangkok: White Orchid Press, 1997.
  • Perry, Cindy, A Biographical History of the Church in Nepal, Kathmandu: Nepal Church History Project, 2000.
  • Petech, Luciano (ed.), Tibet Ra Nepalma Italian Dharma Pracharakharu (Italian Missionaries in Tibet and Nepal), Translated into Nepali by Surendra Dhakal, Kathmandu: Royal Nepal Academy, 2060 B. S.
  • Rai, Prem Bahadur (ed.), Prakash, Yr. 22, Iss. 24, Mangsir 2060. Ramghat Mandali Smarika Pachasaun Barshikotsab 1952-2002, (Ramghat Church Memoranda Golden Jubilee, Pokhara: Ramghat Church, 2002.
  • Ramghat Mandali Chalisau Barshikotsab (1952–1992) (Smarika Ramghat Church 40th Anniversary), Pokhara: Ramghat Church, 1992.
  • Regmi, D. R., Medieval Nepal, Vol. II, Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1966.
  • Schreib Claudia, The Nepali Christians: religious Outcasts in A Religious Land, (A field report submitted to the University of Wisconsin College Year in Nepal 1988-1089) June 22, 1989.
  • Sebastian, Roy (ed.), Fifty Years Placed with the Son in Nepal, Kathmandu: The Nepal Jesuit Society, 2001.
  • Sever, Adrien, Nepal under the Ranas, New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., 1993.
  • Stiller, Ludwig F., Nepal: Growth of a Nation, Kathmandu: Human Resources Development Research Center, 1993.
  • Stiller, Ludwig F., The Rise of the House of Gorkha, Patna: Patna Jesuit Society, 1975.
  • Vaidya, Tulsi Ram, Jaya Prakash Malla: The Brave Malla King of Kantipur, New Delhi: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd. 1996.
  • Vaidya, Tulsi Ram, Nepal: A Study of Socio-Economic and Political Changes, New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 1992.
  • Vannini, Fulgentius, Christian Settlements in Nepal Duringthe Eighteenth Century, New Delhi: Messers Devarsons, 1977.

References[edit]

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