Nepal, particularly the Kathmandu Valley, will not miss this year the first year of the republican system in Nepal, the ritual animal sacrifices on the occasion of the Indra Yatra, harvest festival peculiar to the Newar community of the Valley, and Bada Dasain known in India as Vijaya Dashami, celebrated by every Hindu. Both these festivals include animal sacrifices, particularly rangas (buffalo kids) and bokas, (male goats).
What is more, the government finances these ritual sacrifices at such places as the Talejyu Bhavani in the Darbar Chowk of Kathmandu and the Hanuman Dhoka, the ancient palace of the Malla and later the Gorkha kings. The current crown prince of Nepal was supposed to sacrifice a ranga at the Hanuman Dhoka Palace with just one stroke of his khukri. Birendra Shah, Crown Prince to his father King Mahenmdra, had undergone successfully this ordeal sometime in the 1960s.
When the new Finance Minister of Nepal, which has done away with monarchy on May 28 this year, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai presented budget for the current financial year in the Constituent Assembly on September 19, he cut off all allocations to the guthis (endowments) which organises these sacrifices at government expense.
Protest was instantaneous and for three days Kathmandu was tense on this issue with the animal sacrifices for the Indra Yatra in jeopardy on Sunday (September 21) evening, Bhattarai, the second in command of the Maoist party apologised for this lapse and restored funds for the sacrifices.
In fact, even after monarchy was abolished and a Maoist leader was set to become the ruler of Nepal, not a single Hindu festival has been abandoned by the people of Nepal or the new rulers. The president, Dr. Rambaran Yadav, performed the task the kings performed, of worshipping the Kumari (the vestal virgin) in whose name, tradition says, kings of Nepal rule. (It must be understood that when one mentions Nepal of yore, or Nepal before the advent of the Gorkha kings in 1769, the implication was the small territory of the Kathmandu Valley only.)
Women in large number celebrated the teej festival recently, the Brahmins observed the janai poornima, the day sacred threads are changed, and almost every other day people observe some celebration or the other they used to do before.
Incidentally in an unrelated matter, the army chief told a gathering of new officers recently that there would be no recruitments in the army of untrained and unsuitable people. This was a direct rebuff to the Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda who had announced a few days ago that about 20,000 of the Maoist ?combatants? would be inducted in the Nepal Army.