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The BBC's Jill McGivering
"The confusion and distress caused by these deaths is far from over"
 real 56k

Suman Pradhan, News Editor of the Kathmandu Post
talks about the prosecutions of local editors and publishers
 real 28k

Nepal's Foreign Minister, Chakra Prasad Bastola
"We need not just rush into conclusions"
 real 28k

Monday, 11 June, 2001, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Nepal bids king's soul farewell
Priest on elephant
The ritual is to exorcise the late king's spirit
An elaborate ceremony has taken place in Nepal to mark the 11th and final day of mourning after the deaths of King Birendra and eight other royals in a palace massacre.

Plumed crown
The priest dresses up as the king
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and other top officials paid their respects to a Brahmin priest, who was dressed up to resemble the late King Birendra before being ceremonially banished from Kathmandu.

The rare Hindu rite is meant to purge the soul of the dead monarch, whom eyewitness reports say was killed by his eldest son, the then Crown Prince Dipendra.

A similar ceremony will be held on Wednesday for Dipendra, who was briefly proclaimed king before he also died from his wounds.


The "katto" ceremony - as it is known - took place on the banks of the River Bagmati in Kathmandu.

The priest was given clothes and other possessions belonging to the late king, including domestic items like a radio and television set.

Elephant carrying priest
The priest leaves and will never return
He then changed into an elaborate court costume and wore a replica of the Nepalese monarch's plumed crown.

The priest was also required to consume a meal considered ritually impure.

After this, he left the Kathmandu Valley on an elephant symbolically carrying away the spirit of the dead king - and is now banished from the area for ever.

The ritual dates back to the times of Nepal's ancient Hindu rulers, according to the Kathmandu Post newspaper.


Monday is the final day of official mourning for the royal deaths. Government offices, banks and other public institutions will be back at work on Tuesday.

Crown Prince Dipendra
Crown Prince Dipendra: Witnesses say he murdered his family
However, the BBC's Jill McGivering says many Nepalese remain bewildered and distressed by the tragedy - and are sceptical of the eyewitness versions which have emerged saying that the Crown Prince Dipendra was responsible.

The two-man team appointed to investigating the deaths will now report on Thursday.

The team was due to complete its inquiry on Sunday, but requested an extension

A statement on state radio said laboratory tests required more time.

There have been reports that their inquiries have been hampered by the lack of post-mortems carried out on the victims.

In keeping with local tradition, the dead were cremated soon after they died.

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See also:

02 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal royal assassin named king
07 Jun 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Nepal's night of bloodshed
06 Jun 01 | South Asia
'Eyewitness' account blames Dipendra
07 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal survivors blame prince
06 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal journalists charged with treason
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