Minister for Tourism, Civil aviation and Culture Yogesh Bhattarai instructed the authorities of Pashupati Area Development Trust to play the national anthem before arati , the daily evening prayer for Shivaji.
Many criticized this decision. In fact, this is a bad idea. Aryaghat is the place for crimination of the dead body. People gather there to express sorrow and pay tribute to the departed soul. The question is – When the national anthem is played, should the people who gathered there stand to show respect or cry to express sorrow to the departed soul?
Citizens must respect the emblems and artifacts that stand for the nation, but each citizen should be free to express it in his or her own style. Marks of allegiance and respect are only essential in a newly independent country that is facing existential dilemma. People of Nepal don’t need props. Ostentatious patriotism displayed in specified manner is not so necessary. One should be left free to respect such emblems in a place and at a time he finds suitable. One should know the difference between ‘Respect given by heart’ and ‘Respect given by force’. People shouldn’t be compelled or forced to sing national anthem, provided that there are valid reasons for not doing so.
The direction to play the national anthem before arati came days after the government’s new rule of playing the national anthem in movie theatres before each screening.
In India also, government had laid down rule ordering all movie halls to play the national anthem in 2016. This decision was finally rolled back after two years. In Hong Kong also , the proposed national anthem rule drew criticism.
The public display of patriotism isn’t so necessary. It is reassurance for the uncertain patriot that all is going well. Citizens must respect the national anthem but he or she should be left free to express it in his or own manner. Time and place shouldn’t be prescribed.