“Muchuk and Mukundapur: How Two Communities Engage with Mukundasen’s Legacy”
This paper is carries the heritage notion from the historical figure of Mukundasen by studying two sites in Mukundapur; Chitwan and Muchuk; Bandipur, which still has the ruins of resting places used by Mukundasen during his reign. The dominant historical engagement emphasises the Shahs while it does not highlight other dynasties of Nepal and their legacies existing before the conquest. The two sites have the travel stays of Mukundasen in common, with few traces of infrastructures built during that time, which had little recognition from national to local levels. But when COVID-19 hit, immediate community in the vicinity took upon the opportunity to centralize the ruins and imagine a better future revolving its identity; the future they envision becomes a study of importance.
The legacy of Mukundasen becomes a vehicle for a local community to be resilient through COVID-19 pandemic, foster community cohesion through an active engagement, imagining and working towards a better future. The evolution from individual friendship groups to communities in crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic have used the local heritage for their wellbeing thus re-associating with the history and legacy of a forgotten historical figure. The national agencies directly concerned with the physical rebuilding of the historical place, Magars as the descendents of the powerful ruling dynasty with their continued practices elsewhere but not in the site of study and the immediate community living nearby to the site have become a focus for this study.
This study elaborates a conceptual framework in which Heritage and Community creation is defined. It is both a target and a process in which cultural heritage supports the building of a community able to prevent, cope with and recover from disturbances and/ or disasters. Through comparative case studies of two sites in Mukundapur and Muchuk villages of western Nepal can be a set example of heritage- derived with frozen history over the religious concoction in the present days. The site bearing a religious connotation being a pull factor rather than having an important person of historical importance being associated with it, thus questioning the sustainability and importance of the historical site through the user’s perspective in itself. The research aims to define the specific characteristics of heritage and Community creation as well as identify any critical actors and variables, strategies and governance mechanisms, which influence both heritage-driven community and Community formation around it. It predicts the challenges and highlights the potential that religion and heritage can develop as a cultural continued practice for Community identity and value creation with people who identify, associate, create and value the cultural heritage wishing to collaborate within the public action framework to retain and transmit to future generations.
Key Words: national heritage, Magar heritage, local identity, community, heritage creation