Nepal has decided to remove Christmas from its calender in an effort to control the rising number of public holidays. Christians in Nepal are protesting the decision, however, calling for its immediate reinstatement.
The Nepali government has emphasised that its decision is due to the high number of public holidays in the country, and it is not an act against Christianity.
Christmas, first recognised as a national holiday eight years ago when Nepal became a secular state, has until now been the only Christian national holiday recognised by the country.
"We are forced to take such a decision not to hurt Christians, but to control the rising number of public holidays," minister for home affairs, Shakti Basnet, told Asia News.
Christians working for the government will be provided leave for the holiday, said Basnet.
However, Nepali Christians say this amendment is not enough.
"Christians do not just work for the government," said Rev CB Gahatraj, secretary general of the National Federation of Christians.
"If Christmas is not a national holiday, the workers of the private sector will not be able to celebrate it. The government recognises 83 festivities for Hindus and other communities, but none for Christians."
Gahatraj expressed concern that Nepali authorities have been "influenced by anti-Christian tendencies".
The Inter-religious Council for Nepal and other interfaith groups have supported the Christian community in challenging the government's decision.
"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.