Nepal and Nepali people are well-known for the extraordinarily established and inherited cultures. Cultural practices, beliefs and heritages, dating back from the very existence of the nation are still the integral part of Nepali life.
When Nepal was declared as a secular state in 2007 AD, Nepali people thought that it would keep the state away from the religious affairs of the people and promote the religious tolerance which has been defining feature of Nepali society. However, the state’s intention and action have been the other way around.
The rise of communist government with large number of votes in the election has done nothing good than destroying and attacking the existence of Nepali cultures. The land reserved under the cultural heritages is under the target of Land-Mafias with the government acting ignorant of the scenario. Also, various cultural assets are under the serious threat from different groups. The government, instead of protecting our heritage, is running behind the missionaries and their money: the recent Asia Pacific Summit held in Kathmandu as one of the strong evidence. Yet, we public haven’t raised the strong voice against this.
When Mahendra Sanskrit University with its entire library was destroyed, we lost rare Sanskrit books and handwritten manuscripts including the extremely valuable Kalachakra Ambika. The authority could have taken initiation to protect the scripts. However, it wasn’t on the utmost priority. Numerous Buddhist sites are also facing/ faced the same fate. But instead of raising our voice, we remained silent.
Another major problem is associated with the illegal land encroachment. The involvement of land-mafias (backed by the government) are eyeing over the lands that remain as a property of cultural heritages. Over 3000 bighas of land of Swargadwari Temple has been encroached and it started with the Maoist uprising. This kind of hideous act has also been seen on Pashupatinath Temple, Janaki Temple, Gorakhnath Temple and other hundreds of temples in Kathmandu.
The cultural heritages have the system of being managed by their own Guthi. It is the Guthi who provides financial support to the heritages and manages funds for its conservation and protection. It is led by the committee of the people who have good reputation on the society. The members have no other intention than protecting the heritage. The Guthi Sansthan looks over all the Guthis in the country and supports the trustees who operate and look after temples, Satals, Pati, Pauwas and other religious and cultural monuments. With their support, big Jatras and Pujas are organized.
Now the communist government is preparing to draft the Guthi Bill which will demolish the Guthi culture which has been for centuries without doing harm to any individual. Especially, the Newari people of Kathmandu value Guthi as their important custom are deeply saddened by this decision of the government.
Ignoring the sentiments of people government is interested in drafting the bill so that it can take the charge of all the heritages along with immovable property which generates up to Rs 520 million a year. It is clear that like other sectors politicians want it to turn into a political playground where they can put their cadres and use it for the benefit of the party. It is another trick to turn sentiments of people into power by political leaders.
Now alot of people are silent about Guthi bill. The general public choose not to speak because think it is only the Newari people’s responsibility to defend the Guthis. However, this should be the concern of every Nepali who loves Nepali culture and customs. These are not only the source of incentive and money for the government to encroach. Rather, our lives are directly attached with them. Today is happening with Newari people next time it will happen with us. Having two third majority does not mean that the government can overstep to demolish the perfectly organized cultural units. Government’s plan should be subject of heavy criticism so that it is reminded to stay away from religious sentiment of the people. After all, we are a secular state where government shouldn’t be promoting or demolishing particular religion.
Anyone who loves their culture and want to protect from destruction by political influence should oppose Guthi bill.