With nearly 8,000 dead from Nepal’s worst earthquake since 1934 the relief effort has turned to recovery and finding the 400 missing people. The quake struck on Saturday morning, the time when many Christian church services were taking place. Many of the estimated 150 Christians killed died when the buildings they were gathered in collapsed. The tragedy revives an on-going debate over burial rituals. Nepal’s 3% minority Christians favour burying their dead, while its majority Hindus prefer cremation.
Plans first announced in 2013 to establish official cemeteries for Christians, who have tripled in number since the Hindu monarchy was abolished in 2006, have not resolved tensions.
“When a Christian dies, there’s (still) no burial ground. So we really have to hurry when a person dies, and also secretly… have to take [the body] into the jungle where nobody can see. We’re also not given security to bury the dead body. Sometimes Hindus come and beat us up,” said Sundar Thapa of Nepal’s Federation of National Christians in a recent World Watch Monitor video.