Amidst a debate over whether to declare the 293rd birth anniversary of King Prithvi Narayan Shah as a national holiday, the people from different walks of life have paid homage to the nation builder.
“Remembering the down-to-earth Nepal-builder,” was what journalist Sushil Sharma wrote on his Facebook wall, posting the picture of late King Shah.
As criticism about his role found the way to the cabinet meeting regarding the declaration of the national holiday, Minister for Information and Communications Dr. Minendra Rijal defended his stand through Facebook.
“Of course, we are proud of Prithvi Narayan Shah as the founding father of our nation. But some are trying to use his name to take political advantage. We don’t want anyone to fuel any controversy about declaration of the holiday at a time when getting the constitution has been of paramount importance for this nation,” Minister Dr. Minendra Rijal shared on Facebook wall. Arguing if someone asked me if we are not proud of Prithvi Narayan Shah, I will share my answer with all of you.
“One more bit of information for those interested. As a minister of culture during my last tenure, I put back Prithvi Narayan Shah’s statue in Nuwakot taken down by Maoists during the insurgency. And that was in 2008. I did not wait for 2014 to do that,” argued Minister Dr. Rijal.
Whether the government announces a national holiday or not, it makes a little difference on Shah’s contributions to making Nepal as a nation by uniting various small states, existing throughout the hills.
“History cannot be erased just by scraping off the holiday or toppling down the statue of founder of Nepal,” writes Chanda Rana on her Facebook wall. “As each year I manage to pay tributes to Unifier of Nepal with flowers and balloons, I make for Him along with small Deepawali."
“Today is the day 601 must have guts to have a glance of This Tallest image, pay respect and ask for forgiveness for their blunder to try to fragment our motherland unified by Badamaharajdhiraj Prithvi Narayan Shah and follow the vision He created for motherland, 'Unified Nepal of Sajha Fulbari,''' writes Rana.
Prithvi Narayan Shah not only unified Nepal but also gave a theoretical shape to the nation charactering Nepal’s reality of being between the two great powers of Asia, India and China.
Renowned American Scholar late Leo Rose hailed him for his century old observation. “To Kathmandu, the current potentialities of external dominations and subversion are not very different in Kind- though they may be in degree-from those with which Nepali Governments have had to contend for at least two centuries. There is a basic similarity between King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s analysis of Nepal’s role in the Himalayan areas and his selection of tactics and that of the ninth ruler in his dynasty, King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev,” writes Rose in his book Nepal: Strategy for Survival by Leo Rose, 1971.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah also rightly made efforts to harmonize the nation with diverse ethnic communities and diverse geography. Historian Ludwig F.Stiller. S. J sees Prithvi Narayan Shah as a visionary.
“In 1746, King Prithvi Narayan began to speak of the state as a rock, something apart from himself, something strong enough to build on. His administration proved sufficiently flexible to accommodate people as diverse in culture and tradition as Newar and the Tharus, the Sherpas and Brahmans, the people of the hills and the people of Terai. The system provided a basis for union, not uniformity,” writes by Ludwig F.Stiller. S. J. in his book on Nepal, Growth of a Nation.
To give respect, various programs held to mark Prithvi Jayanti and national unity day. From political parties to social activists, every one tried to cash him. However, common people of Nepal paid respect to the man who unified the nation.
RPP-Nepal hosted the reception on the national day by inviting all the political leaders, including the leaders of opposition and prime minister.
"In view of the contribution made by Prithvi Narayan Shah I am willing to hand over my body for this country and the people," said former Prime Minister Kirtinidhi Bista.
The eyes of the general supporters of Prithvi Narayan Shah, who were present on the commemoration of the birth anniversary of the founder of modern Nepal, wetted when Bista made his statement before the statue of Shah in front of the western gate of Singh Durbar.
The National Unity Day Main Ceremony Committee on Sunday commemorated the 293rd Prithvi Jayanti (Prithvi birth anniversary). The program was attended by many politicians, social workers and the general public, creating an upbeat scenario but tinged with much emotional outburst.
Former PM Bista said he felt a suffusion of pride and dignity standing before the statue of Prithvi Narayan Shah. "A person of the likes of him was successful in creating a modern Nepal before the world. We are ready to die for Nepal but it is shameful that the people and the state are forgetting the very person who had created the modern Nepal," Bista pointed out.
Whether one regards or disregards great King Prithvi Narayan Shah, his role as a nation builder remains as long as this region's political and geographical map remains the same.