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    » 01/09/2009, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Government backtracks, lets Indian priests return to Pashupati temple

    Kalpit Parajuli

    Government decision follows street demonstrations and protests by opposition parties. Criticism from the World Hindu Federation and India’s nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, plays an important role.
    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s Maoist government has backtracked and reinstated Hindu priests from India (Bhandaris) it had removed from the Hindu Temple of Pashupati. Prime Minister Prachanda’s cabinet had replaced the Indian priests with Nepalis, breaking a century-old tradition.

    Police, aided by members of the Young Communist League (YCL), had stormed the holy site on 1 January after the Bhandaris had locked themselves inside, and brought in their Nepali replacement, this despite a ruling by Nepal’s Supreme Court saying the government had no jurisdiction in the matter.

    On Thursday the head priest Mahabaleshwor Bhatta and two assistants, Ganesh Bhatta and Ram Karanta Bhatta, led a traditional ceremony, asking for forgiveness for the forced break by police of the daily puja.  

    More than 2,000 people, worshippers, temple custodians and political leaders, took part in the service that enabled Bhandaris to take back their temple.

    After removing the Indian priests, the government in Kathmandu came under fire from Nepal’s religious communities as well as the country’s political opposition.

    The chairman of the World Hindu Federation and the leader of India’s Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, also slammed the decision.

    For many Nepali commentators criticism from these two sources was instrumental in getting the government to change its stance.

    With the return of Indian priests at the helm of the Pashupati temple, all demonstrations in front of the religious site by pro-Bhandari protesters were called off.

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    See also

    04/09/2009 NEPAL
    Maoists against police as clashes and arrests take place over the Hindu temple of Pashupati
    More than two thousands demonstrators protest against the decision to put Indian monks in charge of an important temple. According to the protesters, the “government has insulted Nepalis by appointing Indian priests.” The authorities dismiss the complaints, saying they will not go back on their decision, which respects a century-old tradition.

    11/04/2012 NEPAL
    Maoist government gains control of iconic Pashupatinath Hindu temple
    After almost 1000 years, management of one of the holiest Hindu temples goes to the civil authority. Priests and vendors salaried by ministry. The measure is to prevent corruption among the temple authorities.

    02/01/2009 NEPAL
    Clashes between Hindu monks and police at temple of Pashupati
    The government of Prachandra has put two Nepalese monks in charge of the place of worship. Since 1904, the ceremonies had been led by Indian monks, now dismissed from their posts. The Maoist government is interfering in religious affairs in order to mark the beginning of the new course in the country.

    01/02/2011 NEPAL
    Despite government yes, non-Hindus still denied the right to bury their dead near Kathmandu
    Police and Hindu extremists stop funeral by animist Kirati in Slesmantak forest, near Pashupati temple. Christians, Muslims and animists protest. More than 40 people are injured in clashes. Prime minister urges local authorities to find an appropriate burial place.

    21/09/2012 NEPAL
    Nepal, secular parties against King Gyanendra’s "religious" visit
    Under the guise of a religious pilgrimage, the former monarch is to visit the districts of Kanski, Myagdi and Parbat in the western region. Local Maoist authorities announce a boycott. Whole villages festively decorated for the arrival of the king. Consensus, especially among the poorer classes of the Hindu religion disappointed by Maoism.



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