Nepal celebrates International Mother Language Day with a poetry festival

- Anuj Kumar Adhikari, Kathmandu

Feb 21, 2019-

Nepal Academy organised a poetry event to observe International Mother Language Day in Kathmandu on Thursday. The festival featured poets from various ethnic backgrounds who recited 36 poems in 32 different languages.

The Nepali national languages featured in the poetry recitation programme included Awadh, Kham, Uraw, Kumal, Kulung, Kewarat, Koyu, Khas, Gurung, Ghale, Jirel, Dhut Magar, Tajpuriya, Tamang, Thami, Tharu, Danuwar, Dumi, Dura, Dhimal, Nachiring, Nepal Bhasa, Bajjika, Bantawa, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Yakkha, Bambule, Limbu, Sherpa, Sunuwar and Hayu—many of whose usage are increasingly on decline.

Clad in traditional attire, women from Limbu, Sherpa and Magar ethnicities pose for a photograph as they observe International Mother Language Day in Kathmandu.

All photos: Sanjog Manandhar 

According to the United Nations, at least 43% of the estimated 6,000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.

Various ethnic groups including Dhimal, Limbu, Bantawa, Newar, Gurung, Tamang, Sherpa, Sunuwar and Khas carried out a rally through the streets of Kathmandu showcasing their cultural activities.

Women from Newar, Tharu and Dhimal ethnicities participate in International Mother Language Day in Kathmandu. 


Far-western Khas people observe International Mother Language Day in Kathmandu.

Speaking at the festival on Thursday, Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun expressed dissatisfaction over the encroachment of various Nepali languages by foreign languages and said that Nepalis should use own languages to preserve them. “Knowingly or unknowingly, we are being more inclined towards foreign languages in the name of quality and expertise,” said Pun. “How will our nationality survive if we fail to speak and write in our mother languages?”

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The idea to celebrate native languages was an initiative of Bangladesh and was approved at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference.

Sherpa women pose for a group photo.


Magar people



A Madhesi man participates in an event to observe International Mother Language Day in Kathmandu 



People from Newar community.


Khas people from Far-western Nepal. 

 Tharu people


Tharu and Khas people



People from Limbu ethnicity.



People from Madhesi community.



Women from Dhimal community.


 A women from Yakthung (Limbu) poses for a photo in traditional cultural dress as she participates in International Mother Language Day in Kathmandu .


Published: 21-02-2019 21:10

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