Central level government figures were in attendance at the assembly, but the focus was on Chairman Prachanda of the CPN (Maoist) party. I must say it was pretty exciting to be in such close proximity to such an important political figure at this juncture in Nepali history.
Regardless of Prachanda’s politics, he did express a poignant thought about Dalits’ role in the makeup of Nepal. According to Prachanda (and my translator Prakash), Dalit is not a caste group, but a special community. Prachanda expounded by justifying that as the proprietors of Nepali culture, Dalits as musicians, artists and chefs, represent the real Nepal.
I really like this because I believe culture and arts can be some of the greatest inputs to a country’s capital. They give humanity a reflection of who we think we are, and more importantly, they allow us to linger for a short while in the possibility of what we could be. For this reason that I think Prachanda’s assessment is quite accurate.
What are we without our culture? I am reminded of Pol Pot’s Cambodia – robbed of its artists, poets and even recipes as a step toward stripping it of its resistance, it suffered beyond the genocide of 2 million people. Without the identity that culture instills, Cambodia’s progress and possibility were stunted for years after the Khmer Rouge’s collapse.
I know as an American that the arts are inherent to how my country perceives itself – the birthplace of jazz, Elvis Presley, Walt Whitman… And I wouldn’t know where to start if I were to add film to the mix. It’s entirely clear that America’s arts are central to the creation of a national psyche. They articulate who we are by reflecting what we are.
Taking the long road to a simple point, where would Nepal be without its artisans? Who would Nepal be without the reflection of its culture, its song and its arts to remind us? What then, would Nepal be without the Dalit?
Posted By Devin Greenleaf
Posted Jul 6th, 2007