Gyanendra Shah too concerned to celebrate Dashain

The quintessential Nepal long gone: In this unknown newspaper clip, King Birendra offers Tika to his wheelchair-bound subject.

Nepal’s last king Gyanendra Shah has announced his abstinence from this year’s Dashain, the most important festival of the Nepalese calendar.

Until monarchy was abolished in 2008, prime ministers to ordinary people thronged the Narayanhity Palace in their thousands to seek blessings from the monarch on the auspicious occasion of ‘Tika’.

Gyanendra Shah
Sire on the street: Gyanendra Shah mingles with victims of April earthquake.

Mr Shah was asked to vacate his palace after the constituent assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of a republican system. The descendant of the Shah Dynansty that ruled the formerly Hindu kingdom for 238 years exited the palace gracefully continuing the tradition of offering Tika to his former subjects at his private residence in Kathmandu.

His personal secretary Phani Raj Pathak told media that his boss decided not to celebrate the festival on account of the ongoing hardships facing his fellow-Nepalese. The unofficial blockade placed by India has disrupted public life and festive preparations with as many as 200,000 people reportedly being unable to leave the capital city due to lack of transportation. Dwindling fuel supply has crippled the economy in the earthquake-battered country.

It is noteworthy that the ex-monarch had also abstained from celebrating his birthday following the April earthquake that had killed nearly 9000 of his fellow citizens.

Expressing his concern at the ongoing unrest, Mr Shah has said the supply of petroleum products and essential medical supplies must resume in near future.

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