by Surendra Phuyal
Where else would you expect to meet more Nepalis than in the
right-next-door neighbor, India? Thanks to the open border and the age-old civilizational — and ecological, geographical, cultural,
ethnographical, historical and political ties —
A Gorkha army family takes a ride in downtown Lucknow.
Nepalis are everywhere in India from the snow-capped mountains of Himachal to Uttarkhand and Sikkim-Darjeeling to North East and the vast Indian plains. Their heart may still be Nepali, but they are mainly of two types – ethnic Nepalis who are now naturalized citizens of India and Pravashi Nepalis. Plus the Nepali expatriates.
Put them together, they should number more than half the present population of Nepal — 27 million, although exact head-count data doesn’t exist. The Indian Nepalis can also be called Gorkhalis, although the word Gorkhali denotes one who originally hails from the ancient state of Gorkha, which later grew in shape and size. Around 1815 A.D., the Nepali state extended from Teesta River in the east to Kangra in the west. After the 1815 Sugauli Treaty between the East
India Company and the Rana rulers in Kathmandu, it got its present-day size from Mechi to Mahakali.
Assamese Nepali dances while her folks chat at a party in Delhi.
Indian Nepalis at a Thapa get together in Delhi.
A view from Paschim Killa Kangra, Himachal.
Delhi-based Nepal embassy officials wait for their new PM Koirala.
A Pokhareli Gurung family in Delhi.
The South especially Bangalore and its vicinity are fast emerging as a
hot destination for young Nepali yuppies and zippies. And away from
mainland India across the Bay of Bengal, I met another whole new world
of Nepalis. There, at the gateway to Burma and Thailand, I
chit-chatted with Nepalis raising water buffaloes along the humid
Brahmaputra basin in Assam. I was pleasantly surprised when I ran into
them in what’s often referred to as the forgotten Indian frontiers of
Arunachal Pradesh and across restive NorthEast.
Haryana based Nepali community members at the april 9, 2006 demo in Delhi.
Family of late master Mitra Sen Thapa in Himachal. Pashupati temple by Yamuna, Delhi (right).
Darjeeling Nepali buying cucumbers near Assam. Darjeeling Nepalis at a Dharamshala shop (right).
Mid-west women resettled in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
Mid-west children resettled in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Mumbai based Nepali origin singer Louis Banks alias Dambar Bahadur Budapriti with drummer son Dino Banks
(Left) Nepali bhariyas wait for takers in rain-drenched Shillong. (Right) Nepal army turned Maoist turned Chaukidar in a Delhi neighborhood.
Nepali Krantikari at a recent Jantarmantar rally in Delhi.
Nepali origin leader in Indian parliament (right). Bharatiya Nepali musician Manohari Singh (left).
Nepali origin leaders in Indian parliament.
A shawl seller in Darjeeling (left). Nepalis in Lacknow Dhawa (right).
Youths from Dang at Delhi hotel.
The Nepali diaspora in India is as incredible as it’s intriguing, as
diverse as it is factional — or very rarely united. The
Darjeeling-Sikkim region, which has contributed so much for the
promotion of Nepali art, music, films, culture and literature, is
sometimes more Nepali than Nepal itself. From Kangra to Teesta — the
short-lived ‘Greater Nepal’ region — and from Mumbai to Goa and
Delhi, I came across different facets of what we call Nepaliness.
That’s why now I bet I have understood Nepal better — although I have
a whole new Explore Nepal assignments that are in the waiting as I
hold on to my career in journalism.
Nepali origin Thapa children in dharamshala.
Nepal’s activists with Shillong, Meghalaya, boys.
Okhla Pravashi Nepali wait for water tanker.
Paschim Killa Kangra in Himachal, the scene of Gorkha battle in 1806 AD.
Meantime, I shouldn’t forget to share my experience of meeting the
third — and a bit more interesting and promising — type of Nepalis.
While going on that Nepali-spotting spree across the length and
breadth of India, I also ran into Nepalis (read Nepali nationals)
serving with the United Nations and other international organizations
or the foreign service of Nepal government or media. On the whole,
whatever their profession or the way of life they have adopted,
wherever they may have landed, one thing that was very striking
amongst all the types was this: the lingo they speak and their
cultural and historical identity, that is Nepali. Before taking my
finger off the keyboard, I think I must thank popular Nepali band 1974
AD for making it happen.
I mean making ‘Jasogara Jegara Jatasukai Laijau Malai, Yo Man Ta Mero
Nepali Ho [Do whatever¦ whatever, wherever you take me, this heart is
Nepali]’ happen. The Indian Nepali diaspora — or the global one for
that matter — will be there with you for the much-needed chorus for a
long time to come. By now, I am sure I can vouch for most of them.
Pravashi Nepali and son at a demo in Delhi recently. Thapa girls in Delhi.
Rolpali Nepalis living in a slum in Delhi.
Two Nepali origin girls in Dharamshala Himachal Pradesh.
Buddhiram Subedi, 10, of Dang towing tourist horse near Shimla.
All pics by Surendra Phuyal