If you’re not living under a rock, you might know about the ongoing protest against Guthi bill taking place in Kathmandu. Thousands of people from the Newari community are on the road fighting to protect their heritage and demanding the withdrawal of Guthi Bill.
For those who don’t know, Guthi Bill envisions nationalizing all Guthis—trusts—including both public and private and regulating all religious sites under a powerful commission. According to the Newari Community, nationalizing all Guthis means it would allow the land mafias to capture Guthi lands and it would also adversely impact people’s culture, tradition, and religious practices as well.
A cultural activist, Mahesh Maharjan says, “Guthi Bill must not pass as the bill has been made without the involvement of Guthi’s Stakeholders (Guthiyars).”
He further says, “If Guthi bill passes, nothing will be left; no cultures, no religion, no traditions, no jatras…nothing! Culture, Religion, and Traditions will be gone forever. What will be our (the Newar community) pride if there will be no Culture, Religion, or Tradition that Nepal has been known for thousands of years? Yes, Mt. Everest lies in our country, it does help our country to be renowned all over the world, but, is that enough? Did we build Mt. Everest? The answer is no; we were blessed with this natural beauty. So, where are the pride and dignity? This is where the importance of Culture, Religion, and traditions kicks in. It is our IDENTITY. Our ancestors built the culture and traditions that we value today. We identify as one of the richest countries around the world when it comes to culture, religion, and traditions. That’s why I believe it is not only a matter of concern to us Newars but also the whole nation.”
“Guthi Bill is a conspiracy to capture the public as well as private properties currently owned by all Guthis. Our Government has misunderstood Guthis as Land and Property only, but it is a major source of foreign exchange and revenue in our country. Thousands of tourists come to observe our culture and traditions every year. By taking away all we have, how is the Government going to compensate?”
Mahesh does have a strong point on Guthi and saving our heritage being the responsibility of not only Newars but every other community as well. We should all come together and support one another in this time of need.
Here’s a short video of Mahesh Maharjan (holding the placard) with his grandmother protesting for the withdrawal of Guthi Bill.
The Guthi Bill has affected so much in the Newar community that as a symbolic protest against Guthi bill, people in the valley have started hoisting black flags on top of their houses, poles, shelter homes, and any place possible. There’s also an online petition to drop Guthi Bill. You can sign in to show your support.
On Saturday and Sunday, thousands of members from Jyapu Mahaguthi, the largest Guthi in Kathmandu joined the protest against Guthi Bill at Basantapur.
The next big protest is taking place on coming Wednesday at 11 A.M. in Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu. A huge mass is expected to join the demonstration. If you want to save the Newari identity and culture, you can join in too.
I too am from a Newari community and to be really honest, I am disheartened by seeing some of the local Newars saying “This is not a matter of concern to us as we are not a part of Guthi system.” Okay, you might not be a part of Guthi system, but isn’t supporting the community a responsibility of yours too? Or do you just want to stay neutral and accept the change as it goes? However, at the end of the day, everybody has their own opinion and supporters are what matters the most right now. So, please show us your support and help us save our culture by showing up for a peaceful protest program at Maitighar Mandala on Wednesday at 11 A.M.