Nepal has been declared as a secular state under the new Interim constitution promulgated on January 2007. The interim constitution has given freedom to practice one’s religion without any barrier. Now anyone can practice any religions without any restrictions and pressure. Before the interim constitution, Nepal was the Hindu Kingdom. However, the country never tried to establish Hinduism as country religion. It also didn’t interfere with the practices of other groups of religions.
Nepal is a landlocked country with a population near to 30 million. More than 80% of people are still following Hinduism as their religion. About 9 % are Buddhist, 4.38 % are Islam, 3.04 % are Kirat, 1.41 % are Christian. Similarly, there are others smaller groups of different religions.
The interim constitution of 2007 has been replaced by Nepal Constitution declared on Sep 20, 2015 which also clearly state that Nepal is a secular country. There was a huge debate whether Nepal to declare a secular state or remained as a Hindu nation. Despite being a protest from some opposition parties and Hindu related organization, the major political parties agreed to declare Nepal as a secular state in a new constitution.
Though Nepal was the Hindu Kingdom earlier, there was no any violence in the name of religion. Each and every religion still has a good harmony and respect to each other. Hindus respect Buddhist and visit the Stupa, Gumbas with due respect. Similarly, Buddhist too respects the Hindus Gods and visit the temples. There is no restriction for anyone to visit the churches and mosques.
Since Nepal is now a secular state, an individual shall not be forced to convert one’s religion to another and should not behave in a way that creates disturbances in other religions. There was the time when an organization with the religious name was prohibited but after the new constitution has been adopted, the organization with the religious name has been registered. Now, religious organizations can own land, establish their churches, mosques or burial sites. However, proselytizing is an illegal act in Nepal. Proselytizing is an act or attempt to convert religion of people from one to another.
There is still a debate going on why Nepal is being declared as a secular state. A majority of people have mixed reaction. Someone even doesn’t know the meaning of secular. A majority of people have welcomed this declaration while there are the group of people who are against this declaration. They suspect that the declaration might be an idea of western countries to promote their religions in our country so that they can divert the mind of the majority population of the country as per their needs.
A secular state is a state which is officially neutral in the matter of religion. The state neither judge on the basis of religion nor support any single religion. It treats citizens equally regardless of the religions. Besides Nepal, there are so many countries that have adopted secularism in their constitution. India, China, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Philippines etc. are the secular countries in Asia while there are so much other European, Americans, African countries that have adopted secularism.