Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nepal's First President VS Last King

This appeared in TIME:

Deepak Adhikari/Kathmandu
It was during Indra Jatra, the festival that marks the end of monsoon and honors the rain god Indra, that Prithvinarayan Shah attacked a bowl-shaped valley and expanded his kingdom to form what would eventually become modern-day Nepal. That was 1768, and in keeping with the local custom of the now-famous Nepali institution of Kumari — the worshipping of young girls believed to be incarnations of the Hindu deity Taleju — the new king went on to get blessings from the living goddess.

The last king of Shah's dynasty, however, wasn't as lucky. Last month, the site of the yearly celebration of Indra Jatra in Kathmandu's ancient Durbar Square became the latest frontline in a battle being waged between Nepal's ousted king and the nation's young government. When former king Gyanendra Shah, who left his post after the government voted to become a republic on May 28, 2008, attempted to pay homage to nine former royal Kumaris in the square, government supporters gathered to protest the former king's visit, and he was physically prevented from his visit. The government cited security reasons for the interruption, but one local news commentator said that the tussle amounted to nothing less than a battle between the old and new Nepal.

Read more in TIME


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