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From The Nepali Press
Secular Dasain




NILAM, GHIMIRE

Nepal is a multi-religious, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-ethnic country. Parliament proclaimed Nepal a secular state [earlier this year], while the 1990 constitution had defined Nepal as a Hindu country.

There are more tribal and indigenous communities in Nepal than Hindus, and they have their own distinct languages, religions, and cultures. Besides them, Nepal also has Muslims and Buddhists. The tribal and indigenous communities who form the majority of the population are non-Hindus.

But Prithbi Narayan Shah wanted to create a 'true Hindu land' in Nepal and started converting the indigenous peoples to Hinduism by expanding the borders of Gorkha. The Shah dynasty forced indigenous communities to accept Brahmanistic Hinduism, backed with the slogan of 'one language, one religion, one people'. Due to pressure from the power centre, indigenous communities have also been forced to accept Hindu culture and norms, and festivals like Dasain are national celebrations.

Indigenous communities and leftists have long demanded that Nepal be declared a secular state. Parliament's proclamation earlier this year announcing a secular Nepal has been welcomed by political parties, indigenous communities, and social welfare organisations. In a secular country all religions and cultures are treated equally by the state.

Puritans oppose the secularisation of Nepal. The biggest loser from secularism is the monarchy, which declares itself an incarnation of Vishnu and has ruled Nepal for over 200 years with the backup of Hindu religion. This is why puritans, regressionists, and royalists oppose the proclamation. They have even tried to create caste wars in the name of religion. However, their attempts will prove fruitless in the face of people power. After the reinstallation of democracy in Nepal it is essential that secularism be implemented correctly.

Dasain is now used to promote consumerism and force indigenous communities to accept a Hindu identity. The festival is a burden to the poor, subsistence farmers, and daily wage earners. The government should now treat all religions, cultures and languages equally



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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