– Views by Ashutosh Shrivastav
From the Nepal Horizons
Centuries old tradition in Nepal—Indrajatra—where people receive blessings from a young living Goddess, is planned to be eradicated by the new Maoists government of Nepal. Baburam Bhattarai, a graduate of communist school in India while presenting the country’s budget for the first time during his tenure cut the spending on this important festival, making it the possibility for his last budget announcement. Since this festival is organized by Newars, and is much awaited by all the Hindus in the world, it was obvious for the Newars to revolt. No sooner the spending budget was released, the country saw fire. People were on the streets protesting against the minister’s allocation of funds.
Bhattarai asked Home Minister Bamdev Guatam to take the control measures for the riots going in Kathmandu valley. He even threatened to use this Young Communist League if the minister fails to deploy the army and the police. Bhattarai’s usual threats did not prove effective this time and more people jumped on the streets to save their culture. The casualties of the riots are not fairly reported in the Nepalese newspapers since the communication ministry is controlled by the Maoist minister Krishna Mahara.
Traditionally, this festival was attended by the Kings, not only the Shahs, but also the previous rulers of the Kathmandu valley, before King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha invaded Kathmandu valley and established it as the capital of Nepal that he had unified in the sixteenth century. Despite being the King of Unified Nepal, he never dared to eradicate the Kumari tradition; instead he gave this culture a promotion and continuation. Nepal—a sandwiched country between India and China—was historically rich in cultures and traditions that it incorporated from various groups. King Prithvi Narayan Shah once righteously said “Nepal Char Jaat Chhatis Warn Ko Sajha Phulbari Ho”. The visionary King maintained the rich cultures of all the sub castes and promoted them wherever he signified his victory.
Nepal saw a massive change from 2006—which included the former terrorists Maoists eventually lead the country. They were successful in abolishing monarchy after the much questionable Constituent Assembly elections—in which the Young Communist League cadres advised everyone that their head will be in their bag, and the body will be in the river, if anyone fails to vote for them—most popular slogan being “Tauko Jhola Ma, Jiu Khola Ma”. They even threatened the poor villagers that they will be under the scanner of the binoculars and the Maoists paramilitary force was deployed along the polling booths. After those earth shaking threats, the Maoists were sure to win the elections, and so did it happen. They won enormously and the first sitting of the assembly abolished Monarchy and declared Nepal as a federal secular republic.
The Maoists and the then ambitious prime minister of Nepal Girija Prasad Koirala—who was awaiting for the assembly to declare him the president—could not foresee the devastations that their decision would cause to Nepal. After winning the election, the then Maoist Chief who is responsible for the death of 13,000 innocent Nepalese, sidelined the then premier Koirala and put forward his nomination as the first executive president. The two ambitious men could not get along and the Maoists forged an alliance with the Communist Party of Nepal, and the Madhesi People Rights Forum—both the factions of communists and established themselves in the government. The Maoists supremo became the executive prime minister and the communist graduate Baburam Bhattarai as the Minister of finance.
Bhattarai while presenting the budget attacked directly on Newars and Hindus by cutting the Kumari budget. He failed to give any reasonable explanation for the funds cut. It appears that the government used to provide mere USD 200 for the festival. Prachanda visited three foreign countries within a month he was sworn is as the prime minister of Nepal—the first being the land of his ideologue Mao at the communist republic of China, second being the land where he lived to fight against the Kingdom of Nepal, and the third being the holy land where his party is in the “terrorist exclusion list”. None of these expensive trips were warranted by the Nepal government. Nepal government incurs heavy expense for these trips, and especially if the PM is accompanied by his even the distant relatives to New York, the trip cost would be insurmountable. The following day he was sworn in as the PM, Nepal witnessed disaster by the Koshi flooding for which, India is much accountable since it was a man made disaster by India as opposed to a natural disaster. Nevertheless, the PM chose to enjoy the foreign trips that he never got when he was labeled as a terrorist and remained underground for almost two decades.
Maoists are presuming the 28 million Nepalese as communist. In essence, there are not even 21,000 Maoists in Nepal. Hence, forcefully imposing a communist life will lead to another war, and this war could see the end of communism. Although not necessitated, if Maoists fail to foresee this troubled situation and correct their behavior to that of a civilized society, their days will be numbered. Newari community is perhaps the most powerful community in Nepal—holding the much stake in business. With this unprecedented illogical move, Maoists have surely generated a hate for themselves in Nepal. After this dramatic incident, Nepalese are likely to revolt against this questionably legitimate government, and many people are also seeking the alterative of this mistake which could be the restoration of monarchy. Although unlikely soon, the monarchy remains as a vital force in uniting the people of Nepal, and with this move of Maoists, the restoration could be imminent.
Spending a considerable amount of state fund on the Maoists ministers and denying the budget for the centuries old tradition seems to be a direct attack on the Newari Culture and Hinduism as a whole. Not only Newars have the fundamental right to protest, but Hindus bear the inherent duty to protect their religion as well. In addition, Nepal as a whole must come to save this culture since Nepalese identity is associated with all these cultures, unless the unfriendly neighbor would have persuaded the international world to classify Nepal as its state. Tourism being the most important industry in Nepal, and Kumari being accounted for the collection of state, it is logical for the state to allocate budget for this precious festival. Mere 21,000 communists do not represent Nepal, and communist should heed this protest as a warning that Nepalese have been patience enough to restore their life to normalcy even after sacrificing their dear ones. The coming days will rebut the Maoists presumption that Nepalese have lost the Gurkha spirit. As the rage can be seen by the Newars and Hindus in Nepal, the message becomes abundantly clear for them that Nepalese will not be tolerant if their identity is being questioned, and a Maoists rule will be imposed on them.
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– The Newah