Nepal to mourn Mumbai, Norway attack victims

August 3rd, 2011 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 3 (IANS) Exactly a month after three synchronised explosions in India’s business capital Mumbai claimed 24 lives, the dead as well as the nearly 150 people injured will be remembered and grieved for during Nepal’s traditional mourning festival this month.

On Aug 13, Nepal will celebrate Gai Jatra, its ancient annual festival celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus alike to remember loved ones who died in the last 12 months, come to terms with sorrow and celebrate life.

Gai Jatra - literally meaning the parade of cows - evolved into costume marches and public singing and dancing with elements of satire woven in them, mocking the foibles of rulers and others in high places.

Since the emergence of a gay rights movement in the conservative Himalayan republic from 2003, its burgeoning sexual minorities have adopted the festival as their own, holding a gay pride on that day - a march with participants in masks and costumes.

Blue Diamond Society (BDS), Nepal’s pioneering gay rights organisation, announced it would hold Gai Jatra in Chitwan this time, a popular tourist destination in southern Nepal, with the inclusion of a candlelight vigil to mourn the victims killed and injured in the Mumbai blasts July 13.

The festival will also remember the 96 people killed in the carnage in Norway July 26.

“Both India and Norway are very close to our hearts,” said Sunil Babu Pant, founder of BDS, and Nepal’s only openly gay member of parliament.

“While we were inspired to start the annual march after watching a pride in Kolkata in 2003 - which was probably the first such procession in India - Norway, its government and NGOs, have generously supported BDS and its projects to empower the sexual minorities in Nepal.”

Pant said the Aug 13 march in Chitwan hopes to send out the message that suffering is universal and needs international solidarity.

A group of transgenders and eunuchs from India’s conservative Patna city are among those from India who have confirmed their participation in the march.

The Patna group also hopes to pick up special tips from BDS to help it hold Bihar’s first-ever beauty pageant for transgenders in November.

The Gai Jatra festival in Chitwan will be preceded by a national conference on gay rights in the new constitution. The participants will include leaders of the main political parties and government officials.

There will also be a two-day leadership workshop for the sexual minorities to teach them public speaking, how to interact with government officials and the media and how to draft simple documents like applications for citizenship and grants.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at

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