Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve in Kathmandu Valley

Happy Holidays everybody!

In 2008 I went to a Catholic church service and I was struck by the way that Christianity has adapted to Nepal - they gave tikka and flowers as an alternative to Communion. At my school about 10 of the 350 students are Christians, and so I wanted to see a Christian service in Nepal. I had some difficulty finding a service on Christmas Eve because the practice seems to be to have a church service on Christmas day (also Saturdays are the church-going days in Nepal, the only day of the week that is off at my school). On Christmas Eve there was also a strike in the Valley because the student leader of a Maoist organization had been stabbed by a rival and the transportation was shut down in protest. I enlisted my host brother to drive me around roadblocks on his motorcycle, and I finally ended up at the impressive Church of the Assumption in Patan:

About a fourth of the guests were foreigners and the Mass was conducted in Nepali and English (they chose some aspects of the service to speak in Nepali and others to speak in English). We sat on the floor in rows and there were plates of traditional Nepali coiled bread and fruits offered to the Baby Jesus in front of the pulpit, but other than that the service was pretty familiar.

As if to remind me that I was still in Nepal, there was also a blackout in the middle of a text reading. The lights and electricity were off for about five minutes, and some altar boys had to come up to the pulpit with candles so that the priest could see the bible. The music was praise music, so many of the lyrics were familiar. The verses were written alternating in English and Nepali, which was fun for me.

After the service we went to the "Red Dingo," a restaurant specializing in high-end Australian cuisine (yep). I had a chicken meat pie with mashed potatoes. There were also carolers!

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