About the size of Arkansas, Nepal is north of India and just south of China. It is a landlocked country with a dramatic landscape of the Himalayan Mountains to the north, bringing frigid weather in the winter, to the flat river plains of the Ganges in the south with subtropical weather. Mount Everest (over 29,000 feet), the world’s tallest mountain, is found in Nepal as are eight of the ten highest mountains of the world. It is also a country of famine, polluted water, and rapid deforestation due to a lack of any other fuel alternatives. In the early 2000s, more than 27 million people call Nepal their home and a wide majority of these people are Hindu, making Nepal the only official Hindu state in the world. The ethnicity of the Nepalese people is a mixture of Indo-Aryans from India and Mongoloids from China and Tibet. Buddhism is the other major religion in the country, with Nepal proud to claim that Buddha was born here. The capital is Kathmandu, which lies in the eastern portion of the country. Like the rest of the country, Kathmandu has both scenic wonders and filth and wear and tear. The country tries to maintain its heritage while coping with twenty-first-century challenges brought by a growing population and economic difficulties. More than 700,000 people live in the capital city.
Brief Political History of Nepal
Recorded history of Nepal goes back at least to 700 . when the Kiratis people lived in the Nepal Valley. This was the approximate period of the Buddha’s birth, and Buddhism flourished in the area. By 200 ., however, Buddhism had given way to Hinduism, which continues to be the major religion of the area. In more recent history, warriors from India invaded the area, and when British forces controlled major portions of India in the eighteenth century, Nepal lost part of its territory to British India. However, the country was never controlled by a foreign government. Nepal maintained its independence while enjoying good relationships both with Britain and later with India when that country reestablished its independence in the mid-twentieth century.
Nepal, the only Hindu monarchy in the world, was ruled by an inherited monarch until 1951, when a cabinet system of government was begun. Eight years later, the country held its first elections. However, in 1960, the reigning monarch, King Mahendra, dissolved the parliament, and ever since there has been little political stability in the country. In 2001, Nepal made headlines in newspapers all over the world when the crowned Prince Dipendra murdered ten of his family members, including his parents, King Birenda and Queen Aishwarya, then took his own life. It has been assumed that the issue that spurred these killings was the prince’s inability to convince his parents to allow him to marry a woman he loved. The new king, Gyanendra, in 2002, attempted to secure his own power by dissolving the current prime minister and his cabinet for incompetence. But with these acts as well as a growing insurgency by Nepalese people influenced by the political theories of the Maoists, Nepal continues to suffer from political insecurities. Voting rights have been promised by 2005. However, the insurgents are growing stronger and more active. Warnings have been issued by the U.S. government, suggesting that tourists be very cautious while visiting Nepal today.
Famous Authors of Nepal
Modern literature in Nepal often begins in the early nineteenth century with poetry of such artists as Shuwananda Das, Radha Ballav Arjjyal, and Shakti Ballav Arjjyal, whose poems are devoted to the brave acts of soldiers and kings. During the later part of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, there was a turn in subject matter as writers focused more on stories of mythology. One of the most well known writers of that time was Bhanu Bhakta Aacharya, who wrote Ramayan, Badhu Shiksha and Ram Gita . As the twentieth century progressed, topics for writers changed again and under Western influence, English words began to be incorporated in literary pieces. Works became more personal and topics such as sex and family dynamics were explored.
The culture of Nepal is often described as caught between two ages, the sixteenth century and the twenty-first. While the Nepalese value their heritage and traditions, they are increasingly more in contact with Western consumer society and the urge toward capitalism is changing Nepalese lifestyle. Their arts and festivals remain shaped by the past. The music of Nepal, for example, is handed down through religious ceremony. Many of the songs are sung during religious ceremonies. The most popular (as well as most traditional) instruments are drums and wind instruments. Vijaya Dashami, a national festival held in early fall, honors the family. It is a time for music and lavish meals. Another major festival, Maha Shivatri, honors the Hindu god Shiva. Thousands of pilgrims travel to Kathmandu to the temple of Pashupatinath during this festival, where they bathe and fast. Pramod visits this temple soon after learning that he has lost his job.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 22, Samrat Upadhyay, Published by Gale Group, 2010