Saturday, September 15, 2007
This picture shows the main entrance to the Boudha stupa, over which is draped a banner I can't read but imagine is congratulating and exhorting Prashant Tamang to victory in Indian Idol. While an Indian national, Prashant is an ethnic Nepali who has been adopted by the whole of Nepal as a son of the country. Ironically, he comes from among the Tamang, a Mongolian ethnic group practicing Buddhism that has long been marginalized in Aryan Hindu Nepal. The area around Boudha is heavily populated by the Tamang and their ethnic brothers, the Tibetans, and many have told me that even though they haven’t been following Indian Idol, they are now intensely interested – and proud. Like American Idol, the general public is allowed to vote, but only those within India. Thus there is now a large and well-organized campaign to assist Nepalis to visit Indian to take part in the voting. The final is scheduled for September 23. If only the national elections, slated for November, could be organized with as much fervor and attention to detail.