Nepal to allow cremation of Tibetan Buddhist monk
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The body of a revered Tibetan Buddhist monk can now be cremated at his monastery in the hills outside Nepal’s capital, the government said Tuesday after reversing its earlier objections to bringing the body into the country.
Nepal had initially said Shamar Rinpoche’s body could not enter Nepal because he was a citizen of the nearby Himalayan nation of Bhutan. Some accused the government, however, of fearing anti-China protests by Tibetans during the funeral procession, which is expected to be attended by thousands of Rinpoche’s followers.
The Cabinet decided Tuesday to allow the cremation, Information Minister Minendra Risal said, out of recognition for the monk’s contribution to Buddhism in the country.
Rinpoche — who has followers in Nepal, India, Bhutan and Europe — built his monastery in the hills northwest of Katmandu and preached there for several years. His followers said he wished to be cremated there.
After the 62-year-old Rinpoche died of a heart attack in Germany last month, his body was flown to India for his followers there to pay their last respects. The body has remained in Kalingpong in northeast India.
Risal said the Nepalese government’s approval had been delayed until Prime Minister Sushil Koirala returned from a medical trip to the United States, where he was receiving cancer treatment.
The cremation is expected to take place Thursday.
Nepal does not allow Tibetan exiles to protest against China, and police are quick to break up any demonstrations.