Nepal is a country rich in heritage and tradition. It is endowed with mountains as high as the Everest and plains of the tarai. The Nepalese (Gorkhas to many) owe their origin to various surrounding geographies, be it Tibet or north India. The Shah dynasty which ruled Nepal for most part of its existence could perhaps be from the plains of India. The founder of Nepal Prithvi Narayan Shah drew his spiritual strength from Baba Gorakhnath, from where comes the word Gorkha the founding place of the Shah Dynasty, from where they emerged and unified Nepal as one entity. Since time immoral the brave warriors from Nepal came to be known as the Gorkhas. In India, Baba Goraknath’s name is synonymous with Gorakhpur, the history of Nepal and India being intertwined. Siddhartha was born in Lumbini, in present day Nepal and became Buddha in Gaya in present day Bihar, India. Sita from Janakpur in present day Nepal was married to Lord Rama and spent the rest of her life in present day India. The Pandavas were working in the kitchen of Raja Birat during their Agyatwas in present day Biratnagar in Nepal. In fact if local folklore is to be believed they hid their weapons in the Vijaypur Hill in present day Dharan town in Nepal.
The Gorkhas who were recruited into the British Indian Army have a very rich tradition of Velour from time immemorial. So much so that one of the bravest sons of Free India Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw once commented “If a soldier says he is not scared, then either he is lying or is a Gorkha”. To this day the Chief of the Nepalese Army is the Honorary Chief of the Indian Army and Vice-Versa and they exchange words when they meet. In fact the present day Indian Army Chief is from the Gorkha Regiment. A Gorkha Officer in the Indian Army spontaneously greets with the salutation Jai Gorakh. In fact recently when a Colonel of the Gorkha regiment made the supreme sacrifice in Kashmir, his young 11 year daughter saluted her dads mortal remains with the Gorkha War Cry” Katar Hunu Bandha Marno Ramro”(its better to die than being a coward) electrifying the already emotionally charged Gorkha troops of his regiment.
A country so rich in tradition with its various tribes and castes and sub-castes, people here have very high kinship within their own tribe or caste group and as a downside of which racial strain with other groups. With the coming of democracy, these differences long swept underneath have started coming to the surface resulting in mushrooming of political parties and interest groups of all shades and colour, many a times pulling in different directions. The Gorakhwani of Baba Goraknath “ Hath na Kariba, Padha na Rahiba, Dhera Dhariba Paon”(Neither be too aggressive, nor to passive, move gently) seems to be fading.
In this present day environment Nepal needs a new wave of spiritual awakening, a call for which was given by the world renowned spiritual master Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, when he visited the city of Dharan on 1st March(Fagun 18th Gata) 2013. He said “from now on every 1st of March (Fagun 18th Gata) should be celebrated as Nepali Topi Diwas” so that Nepalese who are fast losing their traditions and pulling in different directions, to come together under the banner of the Nepali Topi and start moving with a common agenda and direction with pride in their culture and tradition. A people need to be proud about their past to be confident about their future. Societies that have forgotten their roots have had various ills affecting them like drugs, AIDS, depression and divorce.
Since the clarion call given by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, the Art of Living Nepal along with various other organization like the, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Red Cross, Udyog Vanijya Sangh, Janjati Mahasangh, Marwari Samaj and many other like minded organizations have been celebrating Fagun 18th Gata as Nepali Topi Diwas each year. On this day thousands of people from across various towns and cities, wearing their traditional dresses and the Nepali Topi march through the streets singing songs in praise of the Nepali Topi and their country. More and more organizations and people are joining each year, including parliamentarians, senior police officials, college lecturers and businessmen with the custom also spreading to the villages.
Today many calenders across Nepal have entered March 1st (Fagun 18th Gata) as Nepali Topi Diwas. The aim is to instil pride in your own culture along with accepting the good things from other parts of the world, with the overall vision of what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji says, “Deepen your Roots and broaden your Horizon”. While addressing the United Nations, Guruji said, “Those who take responsibility do not pray and those who pray do not take responsibility. I pray as well as take responsibility” . This statement becomes important and relevant to emulate since for years Nepal went through exactly the same dichotomy.
Also, what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji said while addressing the World Culture Festival in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where people from across the world were presenting their cultural diversity celebrating 30 years of Art of Living ” One Divinity, One Humanity, Celebrating the Diversity is our Sacred Duty” cannot be more true today in the context of the logjam being witnessed.
An International Faculty of the Art of Living, Samir Jolly is the son of a Gorkha officer Late Brig S.C. Jolly, VSM.