Have gods turned against Nepal's Maoist government?
When King Gyanendra's army-backed reign ended three years ago followed by the abolition of monarchy in the world's only Hindu kingdom, it did not come as a surprise to the Himalayan nation's devout Hindus.world Updated: May 04, 2009 15:29 IST
When King Gyanendra's army-backed reign ended three years ago followed by the abolition of monarchy in the world's only Hindu kingdom, it did not come as a surprise to the Himalayan nation's devout Hindus.
"It was on the cards," says Upendra Dahal, a Brahmin priest who also dabbles in astrology at the revered Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu. "The gods were against him and sent him omens."
Not one or two, there were at least four "divine warnings".
An annual procession during which the Kumari or Kathmandu's Living Goddess - a pre-pubescent girl regarded as the protective deity of the royal family - is taken around the capital was disrupted after an axle broke.
A second chariot procession to mark the worship of Rato Machhindranath, the god of rains, was halted due to curfew imposed by the king's government.
As people started to take note of the omens, which were said to prophesy disaster, a third warning sounded in a temple in northern Dolakha district.
The stone statue of a Hindu deity, Bhimsen, began to "sweat", a phenomenon that in the past was said to have been followed by disasters such as killer earthquakes and the massacre of the royal family.
A fourth jarring note was struck when for the first time in Nepal's history, a Kumari was "sacked" by her temple priests for venturing out of Nepal to attend a documentary festival in the US.
Now a year after the exit of the king and his former arch enemies, the Maoist guerrillas, coming to power, there are fresh divine rumblings.
On Sunday, the procession of Rato Machhindranath came to a standstill once again as the immense chariot almost keeled over.
The debacle coincided with a mighty blow to the eight-month-old Maoist government with its two allies deserting, reducing it to a minority.
Then to add to Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda's woes, Nepal's first President Ram Baran Yadav, who last year succeeded deposed king Gyanendra as the head of the new republic, stayed the ruling party's order to sack the chief of the army, Gen Rookmangud Katawal. The decision drove the former guerrillas into a do-or-die situation.
As the spectre of a no-trust vote and a humiliating defeat hangs over the Maoist government, people are also talking of the former rebels' professed disdain for religion.
Lawmaker Sunil Babu Pant noted in a report made after visiting Sunsari district in southern Nepal, which was hit by major floods last year and for which some villagers blamed Prachanda.
"The prime minister took the oath of office in the name of people and not god," a villager said. "It was his disbelief that angered the gods and caused the flood."