King PN Shah’s 195th birth anniv marked amid adulation and criticism

- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Jan 12, 2017-The 295th birth anniversary of King Prithvi Narayan Shah on Wednesday was marked by both commemoration and remonstration.

While some honoured the 18th century monarch, who is often regarded as the creator of modern Nepal, by laying flower wreaths and festooning garlands on his statues, others criticised him as a cruel tyrant. 

Shivsena Nepal, a Hindu nationalist political party, marked the day by offering a 108-metre long garland to the statue of the king at Singha Durbar in the Capital. The function was attended by scores of people, who said they admired the “Great King” from the ancient Gorkha kingdom for unifying several princely states to create Nepal. 

Gorkha Samaj also organised a rally in the Capital and paid tribute to Shah’s statue at Singha Durbar.

Meanwhile, there were also plenty of those who refused to see Shah as the nation builder. The social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with the debate whether Shah was worthy of the title and admiration that he receives. A large number of people acknowledged him for building the modern Nepal but there were also no shortage of contrarians, who championed the republic order above all and equated celebrating the birth anniversary of a sovereign monarch with hypocrisy.

In Kirtipur, an event was held to protest the violence exacted by the soldiers under Shah in the battle of 1767. It is said that Shah and his soldiers had cut off the ears and noses of hundreds of Kirtipur locals, including women and children, in the battle. 

The topic of whether there should be a public holiday to mark the birth anniversary of the king was also widely debated. 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party organised a tea reception in the Capital where the leaders from various political parties called for a public day to celebrate the birth anniversary of Shah.

The leaders, including RPP Chairman Kamal Thapa, said Shah’s contribution should be honoured by all patriots and that his birth anniversary should be observed as the National Unification Day. The government stopped celebrating Shah’s birth anniversary after the republic order was established in 2006.

Published: 12-01-2017 07:28

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