|EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY: Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat waliking to parliament, Thursday flanked by Home Minister Krishna Sitaula, Minister for Education and Sports Pradeep Nepal, Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel, and Agriculture Minister Chhabilal Biswokarma. Royal allowances were slashed, even as a large election budget was announced.|
In his budget presented to parliament on Thursday afternoon, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat axed the salaries the king, queen, crown prince, and princess used to get from the state coffers, saving the tax payers Rs 40 million a year. Some of these savings will go towards the elections, for which the budget has set aside Rs 6 billion.
Snapping the monarchy's ties to tradition seems to be indirectly affecting the Kumari custom. In one week, Nepal's living goddess tradition was broken twice.
The Patan goddess, 13-year-old Chanira Bajryacharya,(pictured) had to bless the prime minister instead of the king at Bhoto Jatra in Jawalakhel on Sunday. Not everyone in Patan was happy-even if the king couldn't come they thought it inappropriate that a bahun prime minister should take over the monarch's ceremonial function.
Also last week, ten-year-old Sajani Shakya, the Bhaktapur Kumari, was fired from her job for travelling 'across the black waters' to the United States to release her documentary, Living Goddess. Sajani's parents say the Taleju priests knew of her trip in advance and did not object.
Guthi Sansthan member Jaya Prasad Regmi says the trust is dismissing Sajani "following the wishes of devotees". Sajani is now in India with a companion waiting for the fuss to die down. Her mother Rukmani insists that the family has not been officially informed about the Kumari's dismissal.