Is Dashain a Nepali Festival or a Hindu Nepali Festival?

This article in MyRepublica raises an interesting question - Is Dashain a Nepali Festival or a Hindu Nepali Festival? As a Hindu Nepali, I've decided to respond to this article through this posting.

The author Sradda Thapa claims that she is not a Hindu and the first and last time she witnessed Dashain in Nepal was in 2007. To her "Dashain sounded like my Christmas and others’ Eid – a time to gather with family and friends, a time to celebrate something that binds us together." She goes on to say that "Hinduism has seeped into much of their religions and cultures, by choice or coercion." 

- My answer to this comment is that Hinduism hasn't seeped into other religions (she mentions Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Animism) so much as other religions have sprouted from Hinduism. As far as Christianity is concerned, I think most Nepalis converted to Christianity mostly because of coercion. I don't want to discuss about the different means usually adopted by the Christian missionaries.

She further says, "I’m still assumed a Hindu by Nepalis and foreigners alike simply because I am a Nepali. I was given a “Dashain bonus” last year. I emailed saying “I’m not Hindu nor do I celebrate Dashain, but a thank you is in order.” And the response was, “Consider this your Christmas bonus : )” Fully aware of the fact that Christmas bonuses weren’t the norm in Nepal as they are in “Christian” countries, I cashed it in!"

- This is a cheap statement. While the so called "Christian" countries give out Christmas bonuses, they don't give public holidays on Hindu festivals. I live in Australia and don't receive a Christmas bonus. Nor do I get a public holiday for Dashain, Tihar, Buddha Jayanti or Eid. At least Nepal is giving public holidays on "other" religious festivals, and all Nepalis receive a Dashain bonus irrespective of their religion. So be appreciative of it.

She goes on "The “naya Nepal” chanted in 2008 had been in the making long before. In the early days of prajatantra, churches started to open –within and beyond the valley, Christians started to feel safer and society became more open. I don’t know what it was like for non-Christians of “minority” religions. But with hope, it was something similar."

- I think the answer to this is pretty clear. Other "minority" religions are indigenous religions of Nepal and their followers did not practise their religion in fear. Buddhist temples have existed in Nepal for centuries. In case she has forgotten, Buddha was born in Nepal. The one difference between the other religions and her "religion" is that others don't go around converting people through "different means". So Sradda, I'm quite certain it wasn't similar for other "minority" religions. She also states that "Contrary to the disillusioned chants, it’s indeed a free country. The first amendment to the American constitution protects the right to freedom of speech, press, assembly, protest, and yes, religion. Such rights are fundamental, much more so than the fundamental differences that would otherwise prove detrimental to the future of our Nepal."

- Sradda, the new Constitution will guarantee that all Nepalis can practice the religion of their choice.  The only restriction is on conversions - the reason why conversions are banned is because your so called "Christian missionaries" use improper means to convert those who can easily be misled.

Finally, as regards the issue of whether Dashain is a Nepali Festival or a Hindu Nepali Festival,  it is most certainly a Nepali Festival which should be celebrated by all Nepalis no matter what religion they follow. If you can't accept this, you can migrate to any of the several Western countries where they may give you a Christmas Bonus and celebrate Christmas but not celebrate Dashain. I have a suggestion for you. Why don't you come to Australia? You will get your public holiday on  Christmas and will not have to worry about what to do over the Dashain long weekend. Unfortunately, you wont get a Christmas Bonus :-)