First Quran in Nepali adds cheer to Bakr Eid

December 9th, 2008 - 3:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 9 (IANS) As the former Hindu kingdom of Nepal celebrated the holy Muslim festival of Bakr Eid from Tuesday, for thousands of Muslims there was an additional cause to rejoice with the government for the first time announcing a public holiday on the occasion and the first Quran in Nepali language being offered to the faithful. “We thank the government for declaring Bakr Eid a state holiday,” said Sheikh Ali Mirza, an Imam at Kathmandu’s Kashmiri Masjid, one of the two main mosques in the capital.

“It is also a matter of joy that the holy Quran is now available in Nepali so that people who do not know Arabic can comprehend the Prophet’s teachings.”

Bookshops near the Kashmiri and Jama Masjids said there was a brisk sale of the Nepali Quran. Sales are expected to rise during the three-day celebrations marked by prayers and feasts.

The Kathmandu-based Islami Sangh Nepal took the initiative of getting the entire Quran translated into Nepali. The translated version was launched in May in a bid to spread the message of Islam among the Nepali-speaking people of South and South east Asia.

The five-year project was funded by project Al-Quran Academy in London, an international organisation engaged in Islamic research and publication.

About 2000 copies were printed in New Delhi and are meant to be circulated in Bhutan and Myanmar as well which have a sizeable Nepali-speaking population.

Till 2006, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom where conversion to other religions were a punishable offence.

However, after a pro-democracy movement aided by a 10-year Maoist battle against the nation’s Hindu king, parliament proclaimed the country secular. Subsequently, an election this year abolished Nepal’s 239-year-old monarchy and paved the way for the first Maoist-led government.

Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who has pledged to form a Muslim Commission for the uplift of the Muslim community who form 4.2 percent of the country’s 28 million population, Tuesday issued a message on the occasion.

He called Bakr Eid a source of inspiration and hoped it would cement cultural and social harmony in Nepal. The top leaders of the major parties also publicly greeted the Muslim community.

The government last week provided a state budget to help nearly 400 Muslims go to Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj.

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