Former crown princess presides over ‘Mrs Nepal’ contestBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Sunday, August 29, 2010
KATHMANDU - As Nepal still hesitates to bid a final adieu to the crown, the women in the deposed royal family have been the first to adapt to their new role as civilians.
Former Crown Princess Himani, who retained her popularity even during the height of the anti-monarchy movement in 2006 that saw the abolition of the crown, was back in the news Sunday after she presided over a contest during a traditional festival celebrated by married women.
The 33-year-old, looking beautiful in a red sari, was the chief guest at the Teej Pari contest organised by the Lazimpat Tourism Development Board in the capital Saturday to promote Nepal’s “oldest tourism area”.
“Lazimpat is the place where tourism first started in Nepal,” said Govinda Singh Dungol, president of the board. “It boasted of the first two hotels in Nepal - the Snow View Hotel and the Royal Hotel.”
Though the first is now a commercial building and the second has metamorphosed into the office of the Election Commission, the nascent republic however still continues to celebrate Teej, the only festival for married women.
A three-day festival that resembles Karva Chauth celebrated by women in India, Teej brings respite for wives, allowing them freedom to celebrate with friends and family, feasting, dancing and shopping.
“Nepal has no contest for married women,” Dungol told IANS. “So we came up with the idea of holding a contest for them, for the first time in Nepal. Next year, we plan to hold it nationwide.”
While a three-member jury including the first Miss Nepal, Ruby Rana, decided on the winner from among 25 contestants, it was the former crown princess who placed the crown on the head of the victorious Teej angel.
“Given the current negative feelings about monarchy, initially we were apprehensive about inviting the former crown princess,” Dungol admitted.
“However, we were spurred on by our master of ceremonies, a feisty journalist who said Himani should not be penalised for having married into the former royal family. Now that they were civilians, she had every right to go wherever she pleased.”
However, though the traditional Himani accepted the invitation graciously, she requested for some time to seek the approval of her in-laws.
Finally, on Tuesday, when she had lunch with them - former king Gyanendra and the former queen, Komal - on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Raksha-Bandhan, she popped the question. The former king was said to have thought about it for about 10 minutes but then, finally conceded.
Since the abolition of monarchy, the former king has been inaugurating temples while the fomer queen launched a boutique by her nieces.
The former crown princess, who comes from Sikar, an erstwhile princely state in India’s Rajasthan, has been spotted paragliding in Pokhara, shopping in Kathmandu’s newest mall and taking her children to the cinema.
She also continues with an activity started when she was the crown princess of Nepal: visiting the old age home at the Pashupatinath temple complex run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity with food and blankets on her birthday.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)