Tag Archives: religion

Contradiction, Evidences Suggest, is the Communist Religion in Nepal

Temple hopping CP Gajurel (You spotted him! Silver-haired and in white kameej) of the Maoist party at the Doleshwor Mahadev temple.
Temple hopping CP Gajurel (You spotted him! Silver-haired and in white kameej) of the Maoist party at the Doleshwor Mahadev temple.

By Siromani Dhungana

Communist movement in Nepal is full of controversy and contradictions. Nepal has seen communist leaders who once called parliament a “butcher’s shop, where dog’s meat is sold by displaying the goat’s head” got elected in the same parliament to lead a government. This country has also seen communists who waged a bloody war against parliamentary democracy join the mainstream, got themselves nominated to the parliament and take part in elections of a parliament to be the largest party in the House.  The country has also seen atheist communists who condemned religion as opium turn into devotees and companions in temple hopping. Continue reading Contradiction, Evidences Suggest, is the Communist Religion in Nepal

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Politics of Religion and Conversion

By Dinesh Wagle

A conference of Nepali and Indian ultra-Hindu rightists in Mumbai last week has decided to launch “a coordinated campaign to re-establish Nepal as a Hindu state”. Kamal Thapa, who sees his future in religion-based politics, participated. Thapa said the conference expressed concern over sinister plans being carried out in Nepal to wipe out the identity of a Hindu state.

On a sweltering April afternoon in New Delhi, I met a former Nepali Congress lawmaker who is best known these days for pulling strings at the highest levels of the Indian establishment to get his wife deported to Nepal a few months ago. But Amresh Kumar Singh is not a man to be taken lightly when he talks about political happenings in Nepal.

“Do you think Ramdev went to teach yoga?” he asked referring to the Indian yoga guru’s highly publicised trip to Nepal a week earlier. “No. He was there to explore possibilities of establishing a new political party. That is why he met and talked to a variety of people during his stay.”

“You mean Ramdev will open a party in Nepal?”

“No, he and other people [from India] will help Nepalis to form a political force,” Singh said.

“Mark my words; we will soon see a rightist party in action in Nepal that will advocate restoration of Hindu Rashtra Nepal.”

The chronic disease of Hindu fundamentalism that has been spreading the viruses of hatred in India has slowly been asserting itself in Nepal in recent months. Under the more appealing banner of Hindutva, Nepali agents of the Indian Hindu right are gradually pushing the agenda of restoration of the monarchy. As the popularly elected political leadership is struggling to draft a constitution and take the peace process to a logical conclusion, these religious zealots are equating the issue of Hindu Rashtra with the dead monarchy.

What I know for sure is that people like me, liberal Hindus with a secular mindset, are in an overwhelming majority in Nepal. We want the country to be a forum equally accessible for people of all faiths. My own view — expressed first on my Facebook profile — is that religion is certainly not opium but a cigarette that should be smoked in private without disturbing other people. It’s a very personal thing. Politicising religion is dangerous as it inevitably invites conflict and violence in society. I even feel that people shouldn’t be classified according to their religious standing. They shouldn’t be asked about their religion in the national census. People should be given complete freedom to have or not to have faith in religion. That is precisely what our Interim Constitution does. More importantly, it bars forced conversion. While the constitution, for example, lets me dump my current religion and go for another if I wish to do so (because this act involves no one but me) it bars me from luring a person of a different faith to my religion (because this act involves a person apart from me).

But some people with vested interests are not happy with this constitutional provision. Take, for example, our cash rich European brothers who believe that they can buy Nepali dignity with some scratched euro or pound notes as if it were a stale pizza on sale in a rural Italian bakery. I was shocked to read a report in the Post few weeks ago that said, “The European Union… urged the [Nepal] government to allow ‘full freedom’ to proselytise while drafting the new constitution.” A letter forwarded by the French Embassy, in its capacity as the EU local presidency in Kathmandu, to the government said the current constitutional provisions on religious rights were “limited”. The sinister motive of the letter is clear: Buying poor Nepalis to Christianity should be legalised.

Who are the Europeans kidding here? This letter is a textbook example of unsavory forces trying to fish in the troubled waters of Nepal that is going through a difficult transitional crisis. Instead of doing so, the Europeans should look at themselves in the mirror where they will see countries like Malta, Monaco, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and England that, with their official religion, have a long way to go to become a secular nation like Nepal. The EU should write such letters to Germany and Finland, apart from the aforementioned countries, where the Evangelical and Roman Catholic Church and Finnish Orthodox Church enjoy de facto privileged status. Okay, for once, forget all this. Go and tell the Vatican City to become secular before lecturing us on religious freedom. Ask the BBC to give equal coverage to Benedict XVI and Ramdev, will you? This type of brazen intervention undermines our, secularists’, fight against Hindu fundamentalists in Nepal. This intervention also strengthens people like Kamal Thapa.

And France, by the way, should be the last country to advise us on religious affairs. The country, where religious minorities are treated very badly, has a terrible record on religious freedom. I am not saying this. In its 2009 edition of the annual International Religious Freedom report, the US State Department says the French government’s “discriminatory treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists remained a concern”. The report says, “Some religious groups voiced opposition to legislation passed in 2001 and 2004, which provides for the dissolution of groups under certain circumstances and bans wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public school employees and students.”

France not only violated its own 1905 law on the separation of religion and the state that prohibits discrimination on the basis of faith by banning Muslim symbols and allowing Christian symbols to be worn. No one has left Nepal because of an unfriendly religious environment; but according to several reports, many people belonging to the Muslim faith have been forced to leave France because of tightening control over religious freedom. No student has been expelled from a Nepali school for their faith, but two female junior high school students, Dounia and Khouloudewere, aged 12 and 13 respectively, were the first to be expelled under a draconian French law for refusing to take off their headscarves on Oct. 20, 2004 from a school in Mulhouse, Alsace.

The Europeans, instead of unnecessarily poking their nose into Nepali affairs, should rather go for trekking in the Himalaya and enjoy their Nepal assignment which anyway is nothing but a long holiday for them. If trekking is not enough and you miss your home, here is a suggestion: The Roadhouse Café in Thamel serves mouthwatering pizza; Délices de France, a restaurant run by a wonderful French woman and attacked by Maoist thugs during the recent strike, serves excellent chicken liver terrine; and nearby Dohori Saanjh restaurants serve unlimited glasses of beer. Chew, drink and cheer for your favourite football team. The World Cup is coming.

This article first appeared on the Op-Ed page of today’s Kathmandu Post.

Royalists want referendum on monarchy and Hinduism in Nepal

Earlier this week they organized a protest program that partially shut down Kathmandu (see at the end of the post about that). They were demanding a referendum on the monarchy and Hinduism in Nepal. They are using religion as a tool to further their political interest and it seems ultra rightist groups in India are quietly supporting them. The fact is duly elected constituent assembly (and parliament) did away with monarchy by declaring Nepal a republic and the parliament restored after the April 2006 people’s movement declared Nepal secular a month after. Royalists, wiped out in the election, are slowly raising their voices. A monarchist and ultra rightist party called Rastriya Prajantra Party Nepal (RPPN) is spearheading the movement. But that’s the beauty of democracy that they are able to speak their mind and stage protest. They denied us the same rights that democracy is providing them now. UWB publishes a statement issued by several fringe pro-monarchy groups supporting the aforementioned cause in its full length:

Joint Press Release in Support of a Referendum on the Monarchy and Hinduism/Restoration of the Constitution of 1990

The Global Hindus and Nepali nationalists endorse the demand of referendum raised by RPP-N to decide on Federalism and Secularism.  Acting in concert with other patriotic and nationalistic institutions, we are committed to the causes of Dharma, Nationalism and service to the Nepali people.  In that context, we are closely monitoring the rapidly unfolding events in Nepal along with the changing political awareness of the Nepali people themselves.  Presently, the conduct of national affairs has been hijacked by a cabal of corrupt political leaders and parties who purport to act in the name of the people’s freedom, democracy, republicanism, and secularism. Continue reading Royalists want referendum on monarchy and Hinduism in Nepal

Ex-King Gyanendra Does in Nepal What His Ancestors Never Did

Keeping track of the former king

gyanendra in panauti
click to enlarge. pic via kantipur

Almost two years after he was stripped of his crown and became a commoner, Nepal’s deposed king Gyanendra himself has broken a centuries-old taboo by attending a religious fair in a town till now considered out of bounds for the royal family. Escorted by bodyguards and aides, the 62-year-old ousted king drove himself yesterday (Monday) to Panauti, a town 35 km southeast of Kathmandu, to attend the Makar Mela, a Hindu fair held every 12 years. In the past, legend had it that Panauti was a forbidden area for the Shah kings of Nepal since it was the domain of Hindu god Narayan and the kings of Nepal were considered incarnations of the same god. Since Gyanendra’s ancestor Prithvi Narayan Shah annexed Panauti in the 18th century, the legend sprang up and flourished, keeping the royal family away from the town.

An aide to the former king, Sagar Timalsina, told Kantipur daily that Gyanendra Shah visited the fair as a common citizen attending a religious event and not as a king. The former king, unaccompanied by his wife, who looked in a cheerful mood offered support worth Rs 1 Lakh (one hundred thousands) each to the construction of Old Age home and establishment of an educational institution in the area.. With the Panauti taboo broken, it remains to be seen if Gyanendra will now take on the remaining one, observed a Kathmandu-based reporter of an Indian news agency who made several errors while translating the original news report in Kantipur daily. North of Kathmandu lies a colossal statue of Vishnu, another incarnation of Narayan, lying in a bed of serpents on a pool. The Budanilkantha temple is the only one in Nepal that was forbidden to the royal family of Nepal after a legend arose that the king would die if he ever gazed on the 15 feet high statue. Continue reading Ex-King Gyanendra Does in Nepal What His Ancestors Never Did