An International Hindu Conference was held in Kathmandu on 31st August. The three days program began on Thursday with delegates from all around the world arriving in the capital. The conference was attended by politicians, Hindu scholars and religious heads from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, United States and United Kingdom. Inspired by the European history, the theme of the conference was “Emerging Spiritualism: Renaissance of Hinduism”.
According to the Sanatan Sanskrit Samaj, the chief aim of the conference was to make Kathmandu as a capital of Hinduism. Keeping the theme in mind discussions were held covering wide range of topics from contemporary issues, scientific basis of Hinduism to climate change and global warming.
The ceremony was inaugurated in the Pashupati temple in Nepal which is said to be an auspicious place for the Hindus. Around 500 delegates attended the conference and among them were about two dozen foreign delegates. Among the delegates were communist leader Mohan Chandra Adhikari and Acharya KC Parason belonging to Bharatiya Janta Party’s cultural division.
When we take a look at Nepal’s history from 14th century to 18th century the Kathmandu valley was under the leadership of Newar Malla dynasty following hinduism. Hinduism has always been a dominant religion in Nepal after the Gorkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah took over Nepal the practices were inculcated in the administration also. Other sects like Muslims and Christians had a lower status in the Nepali society. Hindu culture had slowly dominated the society and the religious minorities were sidelined.
Nepal’s desire to be the centre of eastern culture was expressed in the conference. With its main focus on the rebirth of Hinduism, there have been various questions that have surfaced. When we talk about eastern culture today, Hinduism is not the only religion that crosses our mind. Nepal has a dominant Hindu population and the society is bifurcated according to the Hindu social law ( The Varna System). The practice may not be very prevalent in the modernized regions of Kathmandu but it is still prevalent in the rural regions and outside the capital. Customs like menstruation ritual, where the female is supposed to stay in a separate hut during the menstrual time still prevails in the country.
The question about the religious minorities in Nepal is still left to answer, will the dominant Hindu culture suppress the Muslim, Christian and Buddhist culture or will this rebirth bring about positive changes for the society?