For most of the half-century or so since Democracy Day was established in Nepal, the actual practice of democracy has been stifled or totally repressed.
Ironically, Democracy Day marks the return to power of a monarch, King Tribhuvan, in the early 1950s. The country had been run by a succession of despots known as the Rana dictatorship. For generations the Rana allowed the monarchy to remain but used the king as a puppet. In 1950 the pro-democratic King Tribhuvan fled the country with most of his family to India. The Rana declared the king’s 3 year-old great-nephew Gyanendra as the new king, as he was the most senior member of the family left in the country.
For whatever reason foreign powers refused to recognize the new king, and Tribhuvan, with support from India was able to topple the Rana rule.
Soon after, Tribhuvan’s son increased the monarch’s power, virtually taking over Parliament. The power of the monarch waxed and waned over the next half century.
In 2001 the Crown Prince Dipendra went on a shooting rampage, killing the entire royal family and then himself. Gyanendra, the former 3 year-old monarch, was once again the most senior member of the royal family left in the country. He reclaimed the throne, now at age 53.
On Democracy Day in 2004 King Gyanendra encouraged all Nepalese “to unite for making multiparty democracy meaningful through people-oriented politics.” (Democracy Day in Nepal)
The next year King Gyanendra celebrated Democracy Day by dissolving Parliament and seizing control of the entire country, ostensibly to curb Communist factions. (BBC)
The Parliament regained control in 2007 and voted to abolish the monarchy once and for all. King Gyanendra’s reign, and the two and a half century old monarchy, is set to end in April this year  after national elections are held.
[originally published Feb. 2008]