There have been dozens of dowry related crimes in Madhesh of Nepal only in these few two or three months. And I read the news about most of them when time permits. Online news portals have sprouted like wild mushrooms in the dampness of Internet. And these news make a wild sensation. I have also been reading the comments people make on these news of crimes in electronic social media.
The most repeated one by many Nepalese brothers (and some sisters) is more or less, ‘Dhotis are like this only. They are polluting Nepal and they should be sent to India.’ [Yes, I am intentionally focusing only on the negative comments.] Dhoti is a long rectangular garment worn by men of southern Nepal and other parts of Indian subcontinent. Brahmins of other regions of Nepal wear this too. But in this context, dhoti is used as a derogatory slang implying Madheshis and Indians.
What does this imply?
It implies that Madheshis are still considered as second class citizens by those people. The social evils – dowry in this case prevailing in Madhesh are not felt by these people as evil of the country because they do not consider them as the citizens of this country, or the rightful citizens as per them. Dowry to them is the problem of Madhesh which they think is the natural way of life of Madheshis (we will discuss about this further) and that it is not a concern of other Nepalese.
Why do so many Nepalese think in this way?
I have tried to understand this since a long time. There are cultural differences between Pahadis and Madheshis. Lekhnath Poudel wrote a poem about Dashain which is in Nepali textbook in eighth or ninth grade and I was saddened after reading it. He beautifully expressed how Dashain is celebrated by Nepalese by putting tika and jamara and all that. But do I celebrate it in that way? No. Does that make me less Nepalese? Of course not. Do Muslims celebrate Dashain at all? No. But then why did a poet of his stature claim that all the Nepalese celebrate Dashain and that too by putting tika and jamara. It was certainly due to the lack of communication with his compatriots of Madhesh and of other religions. I thus deduce that it is the lack of communication among the people of different cultures that alienates one from the other. When one culture does not communicate with the other, then how can we expect them to understand and accept each other? The people who make these ill comments most certainly lack ‘proper’ communication with the Madheshis.
The other reason for this lack of communication is the dominance of Pahadis in politics of Nepal and labeling their cultures as the national culture. A man wearing dawra-suruwal and Dhaka topi used to be portrayed as a true Nepalese. People of south who failed to speak Nepali properly were treated as inferior citizens. Thankfully, political scenario has changed for good and many good changes are yet to happen. These people seem to be plagued by this old conception of defining a true Nepali citizen and fake sense of cultural superiority thus have used the garment of men worn by southern Nepalese as a derogatory slang to bash them.
Why are Madheshis told to go to India and not to other countries?
The culture of people of southern Nepal has likeness with that of northern India. They look same and have similar ways of life. They speak same languages and are connected with each other through international marriages. The ultra-nationalists who are still plagued by the concept of Nepalese nationalism of old times thus attack their own compatriots and Indians with a common slang, the big hurtful d-word – dhoti.
Are Madheshis not at fault in this particular case?
The southern Nepalese were oppressed in the past. But this in no way means that the Madheshis are not at fault. Dowry system above all is the greatest of evils which is embraced by most of the Madheshis with no shame and which is one of the main causes of backwardness of Madheshis. As soon as a child is born in a typical Madheshi society, s/he is enmeshed in the webs of dowry system. How do you expect others to respect you when you yourself are not able to catch up with the minimal standards and zeitgeist of a civilization?
Are Indians to be blamed for ill treatment of Madheshis?
Of course not! I mean on what grounds?
Are we to ignore these kind of people who make hateful comments for a peaceful society?
Of course not. It is our duty to try to inform them of the implications of their words and the consequences. After all, a peaceful and harmonious society has its foundations on love and sisterhood (brotherhood).
May love and peace prevail for the betterment of society.