KATHMANDU: One of the blackest prophecies of Nepal has come true with the two-century old dynasty of the Shah kings finally faltering as parliament proclaimed the Himalayan kingdom a federal democratic republic, removing beleaguered King Gyanendra from the constitution.
Ever since King Gyanendra, who loses his crown in April, decided to revert to the absolutist way of his ancestors and seize power with an army-backed coup in 2005, the tale of the curse of Gorakhnath has been revived in Nepal.
Amazed at the audacious step taken by the king under the ill advice of his clique of hardcore royalists, Nepalis began muttering the legend of Gorakhnath, the 11th century yogi with supernatural powers who was believed to be the protector of the ancient kingdom of Gorkha, from where King Gyanendra's forefathers came.
According to the legend, Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the kingdom of Nepal who began the conquest of petty kingdoms and brought them under one rule, once came across the holy man in the forest. The king offered some curd to the meditating yogi who regurgitated it and asked the king to drink it.
A repulsed Prithvi Narayan rejected the offering, allowing it to fall on the ground. As the white stream of curd dribbled on the king's 10 toes, the enraged holy man cursed the royal that his dynasty would be obliterated because of his pride after 10 generations.
In 2001, when popular king Birendra was killed in the royal palace in a midnight massacre along with the rest of the family, Nepal remembered the old tale and the fact that the slain king was the ninth descendant. After the king's murder, his eldest son Dipendra, who was then in coma after having reportedly committed the killings, was crowned king but passed away without recovering.
Since Birendra's entire family was wiped out in the massacre, Gyanendra ascended the throne in 2001 amidst fearful prophecies that Gorakhnath's curse had come true and the new successor would not be able to wield the sceptre for long.
After the king alienated his people by first ruling with an iron hand and then refusing to step down in favour of his baby grandson, he sowed the seeds of destruction of the royal dynasty.
There were other supernatural indications that fate was deserting the over-ambitious king. This year, he failed to offer worship at the temple of Kumari, the Living Goddess who is regarded as the protector of the royal family, as the head of state.
With parliament giving that position to the prime minister, King Gyanendra went to offer his worship as a commoner, an unprecedented incident.
And finally, the Friday myth put the cap on evil prophecies. On Friday parliament abolished the kingdom's two-century-old monarchy to make it a federal democratic republic.
Mere coincidence or not, many momentous events in Nepal have happened on Fridays, giving rise to fears about the day.
The royal palace massacre happened on a Friday. Parliament's proclamation that Nepal was a republic also occurred on a Friday.
There is something eerily Macbeth-like about King Gyanendra's fling with the throne. Like the warrior king, he too was led astray by a luring fate and overweening ambition. Against all odds, he was crowned king in 1950, when he was only three. It was a time of severe political turbulence with the Rana prime minister pitted against the then king, Gyanendra's grandfather Tribhuvan.
Apprehensive that he could be assassinated, Tribhuvan went to India taking his son, Crown Prince Mahendra, and eldest grandson Birendra with him. Prime minister Mohan Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana had the baby king crowned as a political manoeuvre.
Tribhuvan returned the next year, the Rana dynasty fell and Gyanendra's coronation was not recognised by the international community. In 2001, fate made Gyanendra king a second time to lure him to self-destruction.
Perhaps the most sombre thing about the reign of the king who was not fated to be king was that he was never officially coronated.
Royal astrologers indicated there were no auspicious dates soon after 2005 and first the period of mourning due to Birendra's death and then the fresh political turmoil stoked by the king's power grab resulted in the government never holding a formal coronation ceremony.