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Preserving Cultural Heritages In Nepal

Issue June 2019

Preserving Cultural Heritages In Nepal

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Minister for Land Management Padma Aryal had introduced a bill on ending the Guthi System in the National Assembly, and on setting up an authority that ostensibly would look after all the cultural events, and religious activities so many private, State and cooperative guthis had been performing. Thus, the existence of guthis that had been prevailing for more than two millenniums would come to an end thanks to the communist government. The minister and the NCP lawmakers claimed that the bill if passed would end the relics of the feudal guthis, and preserve the national cultural heritages. So, the communists had put forward a bill on ending the feudalism not the cultural and religious heritage but the guthis, the supporters of the bill claimed. Is anybody buys this concept? However, one of the NCP lawmakers even came out openly to say that the land mafia in collusion with the State bureaucrats created this bill on finishing off the Guthi system. Another NCP lawmaker demanded the resignation of the minister for communications for saying the guthis were the relics of the feudalism.


In 2009 when the Maoist Government Chairman Prachanda led decided to replace the south Indian priests called Bhatt working at the Pashupati temple in Kathmandu with the Nepalese priests then the then NC leaders such as Dr Ram Sharan Mahat and Ram Chandra Poudel marched from Naya Banesvor to the Pashupati temple to protest against the decision and ultimately forced the Maoist government to call off the decision.


Today when the nation has been facing the burning issue of the massacre of the guthis, the same guys who had fought for the interest of the south Indian priests did not show up anywhere where protests had been taken place in Kathmandu or elsewhere. Are these guys had been hiding in the fox-holes fearing the two-thirds majority government or are they simply agreeing on what the communist government had crafted the bill on ending the guthis?


International Non-governmental Organizations had been the conduit for funneling the western bilateral funding because the western donors probably understood how the Nepalese bureaucrats and ministers worked and working and would be working in the future. It had been hard for them to reach the beneficiaries if they were to funnel their funding through the State mechanism because the State bureaucrats took as much advantages as possible from the donors’ money, and they did not care about the beneficiaries. So, reaching the beneficiaries had been hard if they were to give the money to the State agencies for running various grassroots level development projects. So, the donors avoided the State bureaucracy and passed all their money through the INGOs.


The current minister for land management had been attempting on just reversing what the western donors had been doing killing all the guthis means the non-governmental organizations. Guthis had been the unique innovation of the Nepalese folks particularly of the Nevah folks. They did not need to follow any State bureaucracy to run social, religious and cultural events. They had the independent guthis for running so many festival events, then performing religious functions, and social activities such as performing cremation to dead bodies, building hangout structures called pati-pauva, digging and running Stone water spouts for the communities, for the public, and for the travelers, and for the communal functions such as weddings, adulthood ceremonies performed to boys and girls and other social activities.


The sources of the revenue had been the rent on the agricultural lands the generous individuals or the princes, princesses and kings had so generously allocated to run various religious functions and cultural events. The private owners of the lands the individuals had allocated to run any religious, cultural, and social events became the private guthis; and the lands the kings and other royalties had allocated had been the State Guthis called Raj Guthis.


The Nepalese ancestors had been very intelligent to allocate lands for generating revenues to run the social, religious and cultural events because the land would remain forever whereas other liquid assets might dry up at any time, and the revenues might not generate as required. So, the main purpose of the allocating land for generating revenues for the cultural, social and religious activities had been for the perpetual functioning of the guthis.


The first hits the guthis had taken were from the then king Mahendra, and then his successors, who had sold the Guthi land to the farmers who had been plowing the land, and the proceeds thus generated had been the assets of the guthis, and the meager rent generated from the privatized land had been the sources for running the State social, religious and cultural events. In fact, the Shah king Ranabhadur: the ancestor of Mahendra was the first one that had launched the massive attack on guthis in the name of “Guthi Haran” means ending the guthis.


The lands belonging to the private guthis went under the management of the Guthi Sansthan, the State had set up for functioning all the State and private guthis. The private guthis had had hard time to get the land rent from the farmers through the Guthi Sansthan. Farmers often ignored to pay the land rent. However, the private guthis had been functioning with the meager land revenue they received through the Guthi Sansthan, and some members of the private guthis met the deficits for running the social, cultural and religious activities, and they had been running the activities smoothly so far.


Probably the final hits the guthis would need to take was from the current communist government, and these hits would be the final and the last ones; and if the guthis really had to take the blows then that would surely kill the guthis, and the cultural heritages of the Nepalis would be lost forever. That was what the new bill was crafted for, the experts said.


The current minister for land management and her supporters wanted to end all the guthis, and annul any decrees, State decisions, and even the court rulings, and then turn over all the duties and functions of the guthis to the authority that was proposed in the new bill on ending the guthis, and transfer all the lands to the farmers across the country. Thus, the communist minister and the communist lawmakers except for a few wanted to remove the relics of the feudalism killing the ancient guthis and then ending the cultural heritage. Thus, Nepalese communists had been unmasking the features of the real communists.


One of the lawmakers of the ruling NCP Chaudhari told the radio anchor of the “the-news-plus” program held on the morning of June 15, 2019 that the bags of money went across the country from the Svargadvari in the western Nepal, Svargadvari had exploited the farmers (how not known), and then the Pashupati temples had a huge sum of money in terms of billions of rupees, and the folks there had been enjoying the interest the money deposited in banks had earned. So, Lawmaker Chaudhari had been eying the assets of the Pashupati temple in Kathmandu, and of the Svargadvari in the west.


Some communist lawmakers had said that the guthis were the feudal system that had exploited the farmers; so, such relics of the feudal system needed to be removed. Saying such things those lawmakers had forgotten or ignored the facts that the State laws had set the rates of rents on the three categories of land the farmers had been plowing. If the lawmakers believed that the laws were of exploitative then they could change those laws rather than charging the guthis with being the feudal lords that had exploited the farmers. Then, another fact was that no matter who received the land would surely charge the rent on the land as prescribed in the law. What do they think about this provision, the so-called honorable lawmakers?


However, one of the bold provincial communist lawmakers of the province number three: Dr Ajaya Kranti Shakya said that the new bill on ending the Guthi Sansthan was the creation of the land mafia in collusion with the corrupt bureaucrats, and if the bill were to pass as it was then the entire Guthi system would see its end; and the cultural heritage that had been built up since the Licchavi period (that lasted from 400 A.D to 800 A.D.) would vanish, the news posted on stated on June 12, 2019. So, everything had been crystal clear, what this communist with the strength of the two-thirds majority wanted to do.


Another NCP lawmaker Rambir Manandhar came out against the bill on killing the guthis and told the anchor of the Lahana program in Nepal Bhasa of the Ujyaalo Radio Network held from 10 to 11 morning of June 16, 2019 that he would talk to the prime minister concerning the bill and fight for taking out the bill on ending the ancient Guthi system probably introduced in the interest of a few land mafia, bureaucrats, even the minister and other politicians.


Lawmaker Rambir Manandhar also had been angry at hitting the protestors at Mandala in Kathmandu on the pretext of jamming the traffic for five minutes whereas they hold the air traffic for hours, and the roads traffic also for hours when they visited foreign countries and when they returned back home, too.


Lawmaker Manandhar also said that he had demanded the resignation of the minister for communications for saying the guthis were the relics of the feudalism, and would pursue the resignation unless he would take back his words and apologize for what he had said so incorrectly against the guthis.


The State-run newspaper “gorkhapatra” and the Radio Nepal deliberately or probably on the instruction of the minister for communications had not carried any news on the protest demonstrations going on against the bill on ending the guthis in all the towns and cities in the valley and outside the valley. Had the minister or the officials in the State media thought that the State media was the dowry of their leaders and they could do whatever they liked, and blackout the so important issues of the national interest? The State media belonged to the nation and it needed to work in the interest of the nation otherwise those folks working in the State media would not have any rights to draw the salaries.


Only the private media had been carrying the news live and recorded on the protest demonstrations against the bill on ending the guthis. Thus, the private media had been doing the duty whereas the State media had been neglecting the duty on impartial reporting on the events. Do we need such State media? If the media were to continue to be bias against the people then the country did not need such State media and should be privatized or closed down because the State media had been heavily neglecting the people’s interest.


If the Nepalese communists were to take a look into what had happened in the former Soviet Union then they would know how the communist rulers had exploited entire populace. Father of Communist State: Soviet Union Vladimir Ilich Lenin declared that all the assets and lands the individuals and organizations so far owned became the State property. That made everybody a proletariat instantly.


That declaration alone made entire populace proletariats means they had nothing except for the two hands to work. All the small farmers that had owned a piece of land lost their lands to the State; the small business owners, and factory owners lost everything to the State. So, the communist rulers had the workers and collective farmers who worked for the State, and those poor proletariats received whatever the State paid them for their work.


None of the citizens of the Soviet Union could move from one place to another without the approval of the local governments. The rural folks could not move to town and vice versa. They could do nothing except for working in the factory or businesses the State had owned and they had to be very happy with whatever remuneration they received. They could not talk, write and publish anything that the State bureaucrats did not want. They read the newspapers the State agencies published. They received free medical services, and meager pensions at old age, and guaranteed jobs. However, folks did not know what were the fundamental rights and the human rights.


Apparently, the country was prosperous and the folks were happy but when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 after 70 years of its existence, one of the Soviet Republics, Russia turned into almost a developing country. People went hungry. A few folks grabbed the State property. Millions of old folks died as the results of not having sufficient foods to eat because the Russian currency had been devalued so fast, and the folks receiving regular pensions could not buy even a bread for a month. Anybody could easily imagine if Russia had such a fate what had been the fate of other less prosperous republics of the former Soviet Union. That was the result of the communist rule for 70 years. That was the legacy of hunger and poverty the Soviet Union had left.


Those eastern European countries that moved away from the sphere of the Russian influence after the collapse of the Soviet Union had the nightmares of the Soviet domination for almost fifty years. Hungary became the victim of the Soviet Army in 1958, and then Czechoslovakia in 1968 because they wanted to have some freedom from the Soviet domination. And then a decade of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan gave birth to the Taliban in 1980s.


That had been the history of the communist rule in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries that came directly under the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Currently, none of the citizens of the Eastern Europe wanted to pronounce even the word communists, which had been the devils in their vocabulary.


Do Nepalis want the communist rule and see the prosperous Nepal and happy Nepalis as promised only to see the communist rulers gradually taking back the freedom of expression in the name of setting up a media council, arresting folks who engaged in the investigation into the corruption, and who posted something that went against the will of the rulers under the cyber law, and seizing the common property owned in the name of guthis, and become the Soviet Styled proletariats?


Wait for the answer until the next elections.


June 16, 2019


P.S. “Col. Daniel's Article on "How to bring down a Nation" has emphasized on destroying the culture to destroy the nation. The recent deliberation by the Indian Union minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma said similar statement, "kill the culture, to destroy the nation. The recent conflicts could be the part of the grand design to destroy Nepal.” - Badan Nyachhyon’s facebook June 15, 2019

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