Emphasis in bold are mine.
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.