Saturday, September 27, 2008

Piece on "Secular Nepal" from Yahoo India News

Emphasis in bold are mine.

Horatio

Secular Nepal makes some Hindus uneasy

Sun, Sep 28 12:55 AM

Come Dashain (starting 30th September for 10 days), the biggest religious festival in Nepal, and the Hindu population in the country is now uncertain about the future of their centuries-old religious traditions. On May 18, 2006, the then Girija Prasad Koirala-led caretaker government had declared Nepal as a 'secular nation'.

Till then, the Himalayan Nation was referred to as the only Hindu Nation in the world. Though there was euphoria over the transformation, Hindus believe that Koirala's decision was a 'whimsical decision', and has pushed the insurgency-ravaged impoverished country to an era of confusion and uncertainty.

Traditionally, the King of Nepal was an integral part of the Dashain festival, and had important religious roles to perform, especially applying tika (red vermilion) on the foreheads of the devotees. But now, Hindus do not know who would apply the tika.

Till last year, King Gyanendra had applied tika on people's forehead at the Narayanhity Palace in Kathmandu. "The decision to declare Nepal as a secular nation was taken in haste," said Yavaraj Ghimire, a senior journalist and editor of Kathmandu-based English weekly Newsfront.

Ghimire said Nepal's transformation as a secular state should not have been done in a hurry as the state and the Hindu religion, for centuries, were tightly knotted. "Now the President cannot discharge the duties of the monarch," he maintained.

The Maoist-led government's decision to stop funding to the Hindu religious institutions for animal sacrifices witnessed protest in Kathmandu as members of the Newar community were out on the streets. Later, the government was forced to bow down before the demands of the Newars.

"Will President of Nepal apply the tika this year?" Rajesh Shrestha, a trader asked. More than 80 per cent of Nepalis are Hindus, he claimed.

Shrestha said that they strongly believe that political changes in Nepal will not have any impact on the centuries-old religious rights of the Hindus. Moreover, a large number of pro-Hindu organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena, have declared a war against the government to make Nepal a Hindu Nation again.

"Who authorised Girija Prasad Koirala to declare Nepal as a Hindu Nation," Arun Subedi, a Hindu fundamentalist said.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Moscow, Russia has come a full circle - Kalininski Prospect is New Arbat Street, Gorky Street is Tverskaya Street, Marx Prospect is Hunter's Row. We saw so many new churches we lost count. Nobody addresses each other by the word "Tovarish", (comrade). The spirit of old Orthodoxy and Tsarist Russia is in the insurgence. Will Nepal also take another 70 years to come around?

Anonymous said...

Moscow, Russia has come a full circle - Kalininski Prospect is New Arbat Street, Gorky Street is Tverskaya Street, Marx Prospect is Hunter's Row. We saw so many new churches we lost count. Nobody addresses each other by the word "Tovarish", (comrade). The spirit of old Orthodoxy and Tsarist Russia is in the resurgence. Will Nepal also take another 70 years to come around?

HORATIO said...

Nepal cannot afford 70 years to "come around". Well, I guess we are lucky that Lain Chaur has not yet been renamed to Lenin Chaur!

Govind said...

Hello Horatio.
Well I think ex King Gyanendra will be happy to apply Dashain tika to anyone willing to go to Nagarjung.
It will be interesting to see if Paras will come to Nepal from Singapore for the tika from his father.If he does not -its a sure sign he`s mad with his dad!

HORATIO said...

Yes, Govind, G will be available to give Tika to anyone who likes from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. at Nirmal Niwas on Tika Day.

The believers will go for it. Others can go to hell.

Anonymous said...

It will be most interesting to see who goes to NN for Tika - and who does not. Knowing the radials around I would not be surprised if a) the government blocks it siting security reasons b)YCL attacks people and cars

HORATIO said...

Anon 7:58, your cautions are well meant I'm sure. But it is time we behave as citizens of a DEMOCRACY. Every free Nepali has the right to go and receive "tika" from any other free Nepali citizen.

Should the government prevent a single Nepali from going to receive tika from ex-King Gyanendra, it tramples the basic freedom of that Nepali. As for the YCL, there are plenty of other party-oriented youth gangs to deal with them.

Anonymous said...

Fully agree that everyone has the right in a democracy to wear tika. My only point is that we are NOT in a democracy. People elected a consituent assembly to lay the basis for democracy. What they have is an elected tyranny with no sign or incentive to make the rules of the game essential for democracy. There is no rule of law, right to life and right to property the basic ingredients of democracy. Without these its like trying to swim without water. Your legs and hands will move but no progress made.