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KATHMANDU, Nepal (RNS/ENI) Once the only Hindu kingdom in the world, Nepal was declared a secular state by its parliament in 2006 and the monarchy was abolished two years later.
Now, with a new constitution due in May, Hindu groups are pressuring the government to reinstate Hinduism as the state religion.
Kalidas Dahal, a Hindu who claims to have supernatural powers, recently launched a nine-day prayer meeting — including a visit by the deposed king — aimed at showing the coalition government that Hinduism continues to enjoy public support.
Dahal’s demand is backed by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, the only party in parliament that supports the monarchy and Hinduism; the party holds just four of the 601 seats in parliament.
The pro-Hindu party has paralyzed the Nepalese capital with strike and a blockade of the prime minister’s office and other ministries. It has warned of more protests unless its demands are met.
“We want a referendum before the new constitution is promulgated on May 28,” said RPP-Nepal chief Kamal Thapa. “The people should be allowed to decide if monarchy and Hinduism should return.”
Thapa, who was home affairs minister under the deposed king, said his party sponsored a petition for a citizens referendum that was signed by more than 2 million of Nepal’s 27 million citizens.
In a nation where nearly 75 percent of the people are Hindus, Thapa says Hinduism is needed to preserve Nepal’s cultural identity. “If the new constitution is enforced without the referendum, people will not obey it and there will be no peace,” Thapa warned.
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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