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Koirala, not King, takes centrestage

After being politically marginalised, Nepal's controversial King Gyanendra has now been deprived of his cultural rights too, reports Anirban Roy.
Hindustan Times | By Anirban Roy, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON JUL 09, 2007 10:58 PM IST

After being politically marginalised, Nepal's controversial King Gyanendra has now been deprived of his cultural rights too.

Gyanendra was prevented from participating in the traditional chariot-pulling festival of rain god Rato Machhindranth, which is popularly known as the 'Bhotojatra' in Nepal, on Sunday.

While devotees were curious about this new development, there were no major protests against the move.

Traditionally, the Nepal King, who is revered as a reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, witnesses the festival, which marks the settling of a dispute between the snake king and a farmer.

For the first time in Nepal's cultural history, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala attended the cultural function. A platoon of Nepal army presented guard of honour to Koirala when he arrived at Jawalakhel for Bhoto Jatra festival. "We had to change our cultural practices as per the changes of Nepal's political theatre," Manikraj Shakya, a priest of the Machchhindranath, said.

People decided to strip the monarch's cultural rights after Gyanendra's image was tattered after he was removed as the Head of State for his anti-people stance since February 2005.

The controversial monarch was also denied last year to take part in the Phulpati festival during the 'Dashain' (Dusserah) in October last. Now, it is almost certain that he would also not be allowed to take part in the 'Kumari Jatra' festival in September and take blessings from 'Kumari', Nepal's living goddess.

People of Nepal, this year, may also abstain from visiting the Narayanhity Palace to get Tika (vermilion blessing) from the King during the Dusserah festival. Before being stripped from the post of the Head of State, Gyanendra has also been removed from the post of supreme commander of Nepal army.

Meanwhile, the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP) has appealed to all political parties to immediately abolish monarchy by endorsing a proposal through two-third majority in parliament in accordance with Article 159 of the Interim Constitution.

A statement issued by NWPP, said the party endorsed a 12-point decision saying that monarchy should be abolished because the king tried to hurt people during the Janandolan (peoples movement) in April last year.

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