Crossing the line

The initial failure of the Finance Ministry to allocate funds for animal sacrifice and other rituals during traditional festivals has sparked violent protests in the capital. The decision which came on the last day of the week-long Indra Jatra festival, is seen by many as inconsiderate. The ensuing protests also put a spanner into the final rituals. The government apparently made the decision to discourage the practice of sacrificing animals during religious festivals, and to control profligate government expenses. Though not seemingly designed with ill-intent, the decision has hurt the religious sentiments of a good number of Newars.

Now, realising its mistake, the government has reversed its decision. The Finance Ministry has

stated that it will continue to allocate necessary funds for festivals. Despite that, the protestors have now added a 12-point demand, and have resorted to vandalism. The government should not have crossed the line by seeking to apply its economically rational logic. It should understand that in matters of culture and religion, such reasoning will not work. The sensitivities of people are all-important. The government should not hesitate to allocate more funds for cultural and religious activities. On the other hand, after the government has agreed to continue funding, there is no sense in continuing the protests.