On the occasion of Prithvi Jayanti, Nepal commemorates the birthday of her founder and unifier, the late king Prithvi Narayan Shah.
This is not the nation gained by my trifle efforts, this is the garden of all kinds of flowers, and may all be aware of this. Nepal is a garden of four castes and thirty six sub castes,” Nepal’s founder Prithvi Narayan Shah would say. Though Nepal is home to multiple cultures, castes and languages, all Nepalis come to unification to respect the contributions of the founder and unifier of modern Nepal, the late king Prithvi Narayan Shah on his birthday, also known as the National Unity Day. Shah advocated multiculturalism and oneness, and respected the various ethnicities spread across the Himalayan region.
296 years ago, Nepal was merely a collection of numerous small kingdoms and principalities spreading from Punjab in India to the Teesta River, near the northeast Indian state of Sikkim. Shah was born a prince in the Gorkha Kingdom on January 11th 1723, and he ascended the throne in Gorkha on 1743, after the death of his father King Nara Bhupal Shah, at the age of only 20. Only a few years later, he started his conquest of expansion, by conquering most of the neighbouring kingdoms including the principal and influential kingdoms of Kathmandu Valley.
Shah believed that it was of utmost importance to capture the principalities and annex them to Gorkha as the British colonial forces had already begun colonizing small kingdoms from the Indian peninsula. With this ambitious campaign to expand his territories, he made it difficult for the British to approach towards the Himalayan kingdom.
Along with expanding his territories, he laid down the foundation for Nepal’s governance and foreign policy by establishing the Divya Upadesh (Divine Advice)—where he stated the nine principles for Nepali political bureaucracy.
“Nepal is a yam between two boulders,” he would say, stressing the need for a proper balance of relationship between its two large neighbours—and by unifying Nepal, he did just that.
On this day, people commemorate the occasion by paying respect to the statues of the late king Prtihvi Narayan Shah, the most prominent one being situated in the western gates of the Singha Durbar (Lion’s palace). Various programmes are organized across the nation to celebrate the birth of its father and founder.
Shravya Singh Karki is a content writer at nepaltraveller.com. He too shares his birthday with the late king Prithvi Narayan Shah on January 11th.
Photographs by: Shree Krishna Bhandari