Kathmandu, March 15 (IANS) — The holy town of Varanasi in north India witnessed a nine-day religious ceremony from Feb 21 when Hindu gods were invoked to make Nepal a Hindu state once again and protect the royal family, which was described as brave and religious.
The ceremony, attended by nearly 30,000 people from Nepal, was widely rumoured to see the presence of King Gyanendra. However, on the last day, instead of the monarch, his principal secretary and one of the most trusted aides of the palace, Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan, read out a message from King Gyanendra.
The royal message said though the king wanted to take part in the ceremony, “special circumstances” kept him away, a local daily reported Thursday.
“We appreciate the desire shown by Nepalis for the restoration of the Hindu religion,” the king’s message reportedly said.
Huge amounts of money were spent to take thousands of Nepalis to the ceremony, and accommodate and feed them for nine days. One of those who went told the Kantipur daily they were also promised new clothes to attend the programme.
One of the key organisers was a Hindu mendicant, known as Tyagi Baba, who had created a stir two years ago by staging a Hindu ceremony in Janakpur town in southern Nepal, the daily said.
The baba himself addressed the mass meet in the evenings when he would narrate the lives of the kings of Nepal, extolling their virtues, the daily said.
The news of the royal message comes at a time when the family has been continuously at the centre of several controversies.
The first was triggered by the king himself when he issued a message to the nation last month defending his coup two years ago as having been according to people’s aspirations.
The message created nationwide protests, with parliament asking the government to take action against the monarch for his “unconstitutional” move.
Since then, the palace has been fending allegations by the Maoist guerrillas that the palace and Crown Prince Paras have been orchestrating violence in the country and masterminding plots to assassinate top political leaders.
A religious organisation in Nepal, the World Hindu Federation, is currently leading a protest movement asking for the restoration of Hinduism as the state religion.
After King Gyanendra’s 15-month rule was overthrown by a public revolt last year, he was stripped of all his executive powers.
The new government also declared Nepal, once the only Hindu kingdom in the world, a secular state and pledged to hold elections by June to let people decide if they want a king or favour a republic.
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