Contesting Place in a Post-colonial Space

(Re)colonizing Tradition

A Pedestrian Guide to a "Traditional" City

Welcome to Bhaktapur

[1] The Tea Stall at Guhepukhu

[2] Nava Durga Chitra Mandir

[3] Khauma Square

[4] Tourist Motor Park

[5] Indrani Pitha

[6]Lasku Dhwakha Gate

[7]Char Dham

[8]Cafe de Temple

[9]Batsala Temple

[10] Batsala Temple

[11] City Hall

[12] The Procession Route

[13] Pujari Math

[14] The Peacock Restaurant

[15] Sewage Collection Ponds

[16] Bhairavanath Temple

Traditional Culture for the Delegates of the Asian Commercial Conference

Much like the Little Buddha, on 14 March 1997 near the Batsala Temple I watched "Traditional Culture for the Delegates of the Asian Commercial Conference," which was sponsored by British Airways and produced by the Bhaktapur Cultural Society.

    For the event, Durban Square was roped off, so that in the middle, facing west, were seats for about 300 people. The seats were facing the Batsala Durga Temple, which was lit with colored lights and smoke. Roaming the square were suited waiters serving drinks, as well as thirty chefs making gourmet food. There was a sharp division between the "locals" (roped off to the side ) and the tourists(sitting in luxury).

    The Las Vegas style program started with "traditional" (as the announcer said in English ) drum music. Next, the announcer reported, "besides the traditional music, and the cults of Buddhism and Hinduism, Nepal is the land of the living Goddess, the Kumari." The Bhaktapur Kumari then came on stage. The announcer explained about the mysteries of the east, and how the goddess embodied them. The drums and such were taken out of context to fulfill the role assigned to them in cultural tourism. Is this adaptation or exploitation?

     Because I did not want to be seen as a tourist, I stayed just long enough to have a couple of drinks and take some photographs and then went into the "Nepali" side of the rope. I then left the square and ran into a crowd of people I knew. I asked them what they thought, and they said it was "a good program. A good way to pass the evening." I then ran into a leftist intellectual and asked him what he thought. He said that he did not see it, but heard it. And that the "people were foolish, because they laughed so much." [He then made the hand movement that signals, "What can you do?"]


Mandala Map

Tourist Map


Tour Map

Durbar Square

Tacapa Map



Key | Bibliography | Maps

2001 Gregory Price Grieve , Site design by GDL Historical Laboratories. .