Hundreds celebrate deposed Nepal queen’s birthday

February 18th, 2009 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 18 (IANS) Almost a year after the abolition of monarchy in Nepal, hundreds of people lined up before the deposed royal family’s old residence in Kathmandu Wednesday to wish the former queen, Komal, a happy birthday.
Traffic in front of Nirmal Niwas, the red brick building with imposing walls that was the residence of Gyanendra before he became king in 2001, came to a standstill as men, women and children marched in a procession, playing traditional music and waving banners that hailed monarchy.

While the last king of Nepal, who gambled away his throne by trying to seize power and declare war on the Maoist guerrillas, was not present, the 59-year-old former queen, her hair now showing more strands of white, smilingly greeted the crowds with folded hands.

“I have come because according to Nepal’s tradition, the king and queen are the guardians of the people,” said Indu Acharya, a home maker and social worker who was of the same age as the former queen.

“Imagine what happens to a family when it has no guardians? Chaos. It’s the same in Nepal now. Look at the blackouts and the anarchy. This never happened when the king was there.”

The 59-year-old predicted that monarchy would be reinstated one day.

“Look at the Hindu icons - Krishna and Ram,” she said. “Both went through hard times spent in exile. But they returned in triumph.”

Ghanshyam Giri, 58, echoed her.

“Monarchy has not been abolished in Nepal,” said the leader of a royalist party, Nepal Deshbhakta Prajatantrik Party. “The election (last year) was meant to write a new constitution. Let the constitution be written first.”

Giri called monarchy the force that had unified Nepal.

“The crown is not just 240 years old,” he said. “Nepal has had kings for nearly 8,000 years.”

The former queen’s birthday coincided with Democracy Day when Nepal celebrates the delivery of the nation from the repressive 104-year rule of the Rana prime ministers after a pro-democracy movement in 1950.

While the state media Wednesday highlighted the Democracy Day messages by Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and the President Ram Baran Yadav, who has replaced the king as head of state, some of the media also carried a message by the former king.

In it, Gyanendra said that democracy was restored due to the cooperation between the then king Tribhuvan, his grandfather, and his subjects.

He also called it the most important date in Nepal’s history after the unification of the different warring principalities by his ancestor Prithvi Narayan Shah 240 years ago.

Nepal’s traditional history books hail the conquest of Kathmandu and other petty kingdoms by Shah, who came from the western Gorkha kingdom, as the unification of Nepal and the founding of the Shah dynasty whose last king was Gyanendra.

However, the Maoists, who fought a 10-year guerrilla war against the state to end monarchy and won their goal last year after an election, call Prithvi Narayan Shah a coloniser who rode roughshod over Nepal’s indigenous people.

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