Nepal, My Country — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Gaurav Adhikari
I am an international student at The College of St. Scholastica from a relatively tiny country in the Himalayas officially known as Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Many people struggle to point out my country in a map, however, home to the tallest mountain peak in the world and the birth place of Lord Buddha, we are a bunch of very proud people living in the foothills of the mountains in Southeast Asia.
Nepal borders Tibet/China on the north and India in the east, west and south. This nation, mostly known to the US by the hippies from the ’60s as a place of tranquility, also brags about its rich cultural heritage and diversity in ethnicity. The country celebrates over 130 different languages and tribes. Although a national language common for most people in the country does allow for easy communication, people from different communities speak completely different languages and have distinct cultural traditions. For instance, my mother and my father who are from different regions of the country, speak completely different languages; both of which I cannot speak. Like most people my age, I grew up speaking the common national language.
Roughly up until the turn of the millennium, Nepal has been largely ruled by monarchs in relative isolation. Geographical location was one of the primary barriers for this and without proper roads available, people inside the country never were able to move around freely. My parents tell me stories of how they remember seeing some of the first cars in the Nepal that were carried through rivers and hills on decks made of bamboo sticks requiring about 30 people to maneuver.
Throughout history, as in most places, religion has been the primary agent to dictate lifestyles in the country. Predominantly Hindus and Buddhists, a foreign traveler once described Nepal as the land where there were more temples and shrines than houses. Although that notion is now outdated, people in Nepal still revolve their lives around centuries old religious practices. Even in new and so called ‘modern houses,’ we can find ‘prayer rooms’ usually on the top floor of peoples’ houses which is basically a temple for the family living under that roof.
Apart from all the scenic beauty and the rich culture, Nepal has been going through a rather rough patch in recent years. A civil war sparked by the Maoist party saw guerrilla warfare throughout the country in the ’90s. Meanwhile, in June 2001, due to what is believed to be a marital dispute, the entire royal family of Nepal was massacred by their very own crown prince on the day of his wedding engagement. This left Nepal in the hands of a less-qualified distant heir of the king. As the situation deteriorated, the civil war was fueled by further impotent governing by the king which led to massive demonstrations and rallies pressuring the king to step down in 2007. Unfortunately, with a 240-year history of monarchy, Nepal has struggled to establish a legitimate government as it enters a new epoch as a republic nation. Along with the Maoist party, different political groups have pushed to gain power, leaving the country to be labeled as one of the poorest and the least developed.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU
For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA
(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.
20 responses to “Nepal, My Country — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Gaurav Adhikari”
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Nepal sounds like a very interesting place to visit and your parents seem like very interesting people to have a conversation, as well as you. I think it’s really cool that your parents both were from the same country but spoke different languages due the region they were from, and that you learned a different one, still. The photos you shared of the buildings look very extravagant and beautiful. I haven’t ever really given Nepal much thought but this article definitely interested me and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing and I hope you are enjoying your time here at Scholastica!
My mind was blown when reading about the diversity in languages in Nepal. 130 is an astounding figure and I am having a hard time wrapping my head around it.
I also am a bit frustrated with myself (and, in part, our media) for knowing so little about Nepal aside from the fact that it is home to Mt. Everest especially considering the rich culture it has to offer as well as the more recent history of the nation.
I have yet to do any further research on the matter, but I am wondering how much of a role religious beliefs/languages/identities are fueling the civil war.
Thanks for sharing!
Sadly, I fit that stereotype of only knowing Nepal as the home to Mt.Everest. I never would have imagined how diverse your country is! By the sound of it, it seems like a very great place. I never heard anything in the media about a civil war there, and I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be covered more by news channels or papers. Thank you for sharing!
These pictures are beautiful I really enjoyed seeing them. I also was very intrigued by the story about the first cars and using the bamboo to move them!
As you pointed out throughout your article, especially in the last few lines, I really didn’t know much about Nepal. I had heard it was one of the poorest countries, and that the region was mountainous. Your article gave us a great inside look on life in Nepal beyond its mountains and labels.
It is tough to hear that a culture so deep in heritage and culture has had to go through such hard times. Seems like a beautiful place to visit and see. I am also very intrigued by how there are so many different languages in a small country like Nepal.
Its amazing to hear that Nepal is so diverse, I had no idea. I was shocked to hear that both your parents speak different languages, thats really awesome! I like the story about the first cars, and its hard to hear that Nepal’s government is struggling. Also I could not believe that their own royal family massacred their own prince on his engagement day that shocked me.
Nepal sounds like a small place ravished with culture and diversity, something that I can envy. But it sounds like they are having some problems with their government, it would be nice so resolve that for such a rich place.
Ironically, while growing up, my first recollections of Nepal were media portrayals in which they depicted the country as an “alternative” destination for free spirited people. I’m not familiar with the politics of Nepal, but the royal wedding massacre sounds worthy of a George R.R. Martin novel. From the little that I know, I find your country’s history and its landscape fascinating and beautiful.
I’ve always dreamed of going to Nepal just to go climb Mt. Everest, but now I would have another reason to; to explore the melting pot of cultures there. It would be interesting to see how all of these cultures interact with one another in a smaller area than the melting pot of the U.S.A.
I think the amount of culture and diversity you mentioned in Nepal is just breathtaking. I never knew there was that much diversity and that’s just amazing. The idea of there being so many temples and even many of the houses having their own prayer room is a wonderful cultural detail. The story of your parents as well, coming from different areas and then speaking different languages (other than the common one, I assume) is a really interesting story as well.
I studied aboard in the fall of 2014, and during that time, I befriended a student from Nepal. Sadly, he only eluded to small bit of information regarding Nepal. This article has helped me obtain a small glimpse into the beautiful country, and for that I thank you.
This article really helps knowing a little bit more about Nepal. It seems like a beautiful country full of history and traditions, but that is also trying to rise above what is happening.
I really like that you mentioned the recent introduction of cars to Nepal. Sometimes I forget how nice it really is to be able to move so freely and to take on such large distances in short periods of time. Having a car all my life has vastly changed my views of time and space.
Thank you for sharing such interesting detail and insight about Nepal. I have always enjoyed your POV and how Nepal has shaped your view of the world. Accessability, availability- two things I’ve never had to question in the US. Thanks for writing. Cheers.
Nepal seems like such an interesting place! All of the photos you took really help capture what you were talking about in this article, especially the part of Nepal’s diversity. I thought Nepal was very monoculture, but from reading this article, I can tell that it is not, especially with your parents speaking two different languages. Thank you, you did such a nice job!
Thank you so much for sharing! The insight you left me with was amazing, as well as did your view on the world, and how this experience has shaped you. Living in the US I have never needed to question some of the daily things that you have had to.
Thank you for sharing! It is incredible how much history a small place on this Earth can have. It goes to show that there is so much to experience outside of the borders of the US. Growing up in Minnesota, our stories are very different. This helps me notice how important it is to know how different each one of us are, and that we each have our own stories.
Thank you for sharing this story about your homeland. I found it very interesting that Nepal has so many different languages and cultures in such a small geographic area. What an amazing and culturally rich area this must be. I am curious as to how such a diverse geographical region became one country. How was the monarchy able to unite the many different communities? I must admit that I am very uninformed when it comes to the history and political climate in Nepal. Thank you for sparking my interest!