Yet another brahmin was exiled out of Kathmandu valley to mark the eleventh day ritual of late king Dipendra at an elaborate religious ceremony on the banks of Bagmati here, which witnessed some embarrassing moments including an unexpected demand from the externee and reluctance on the elephant's part to cross the river.
Royal palace officials faced some tough moments when 65-year old Devi Prasad Acharya demanded an audience with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and asked for a house in addition to the belongings of the late monarch including ornaments and furniture, which were presented to him.
After some bargaining, Acharya relented and partook the `katto '(special meal) comprising 'chaurasi vyanjan' (84 dishes), before dressing up like a king and wearing a plumed crown. The ceremony was conducted at the Kalmochan (freedom from death) Ghat by the 'mool pandit' (main priest) Ramesh Nath Pandey.
Chief Justice Keshab Prasad Upadhyaya and speaker of the lower house Taranath, who are inquiring into the June one palace massacre, which Dipendra is accused of committing, were seen huddled together with prime minister Koirala at the function, which was attended by ministers and senior army and civil officials.
Durga Prasad Sapkota, a 75-year old brahmin, was "exiled" on June 11 to mark the eleventh day ritual of Dipendra's father king Birendra. Dipendra's uncle and successor king Gyanendra and other royals were not present "as per the "practice".
Signifying the passage of the soul to its heavenly abode, the brahmin mounted a gaily decorated elephant. However, the pachyderm Moti Prasad, which had killed a woman at Thankot while being brought for the ceremony from Royal Chitwan Park, showed some reluctance in crossing the river and returned giving some tense moments to scores of journalists and people who had gathered in large numbers to witness the event.
As security guards took position, mahouts persuaded Prasad to return and proceed on its onward journey to Joalakhel. The brahmin, as per local tradition is considered "impure" after consuming "katto' and is not expected to show his face in Kathmandu valley for the rest of his life.
Braving the summer sun, hundreds of people carrying umbrellas converged on the other side of the river as the Acharya crossed the river with a retinue of porters carrying, among other things, a sofa set, beddings, table and other household items used by late Dipendra, who was declared king while battling for life at the Birendra military hospital.
Dipendra, who had allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself, was king for the shortest period in the Himalayan kingdom's history. The government had declared a public holiday today as a mark of respect to him.
Police had made elaborate security arrangements at the venue, in view of Dipendra's tremendous popularity among the people, who are not willing to believe that he could have committed the killings, as alleged.