Kalo Buddhvar: religion, violence, and Muslim Nepalis
In 2004, an incident of highly incendiary and symbolic anti-Muslim violence transpired in the Kathmandu valley that was the only such outbreak of religious violence on record in the history of the region. It came to be referred to as Kalo Buddhvar (N., H., “Black Wednesday”) by Nepalis. This chapter examines this incident through Muslim accounts collected in personal interviews, Nepali media reports, Nepali Muslim publications, and the official (but not publically available) report on the incident conducted by an independent Nepali investigation committee,1 all of which I collected one year after the incident. At the outset of my research into Kalo Buddhvar, Muslims did not want to dwell on the incident, but it had clearly come to shape the definitions of who they are and who they believe they can be within Nepal. This was the case for high-profile Muslim leaders as well as for ordinary Muslims, and for Muslims across regional and sectarian orientations, gender, and occupation. Kalo Buddhvar, which transpired through a combination of local and global factors-as Muslims themselves describe it-became the impetus for establishing a nationwide Muslim organization that is a politically oriented branch of the country’s largest and most influential reform and revival-oriented organization.